Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development Injury prevention plays a key role in promoting children’s safety, which is considered to involve keeping children free from the occurrence or risk of injury. However, emerging research suggests that imposing too many restrictions on children’s outdoor risky play may be hampering their development. Like safety, play is deemed so critical to child development and their physical and mental health that it is included in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thus, limitations on children’s play opportunities may be fundamentally hindering their health and well-being. Eager and Little describe a risk deprived child as more prone to problems such as obesity, mental health concerns, lack of independence, and a decrease in learning, perception and judgment skills, created when risk is removed from play and restrictions are too high. Findings from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, landscape architecture, and leisure studies, challenge the notion that child safety is paramount and that efforts to optimize child safety in all circumstances is the best approach for child development. And families, popular culture, the media, and researchers in other disciplines have expressed views that child safety efforts promote the overprotection of children.
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