Interactive play map
44 percent of men too worried to help child in need

New figures released today for Playday 2010 reveal that the loss of community spirit in Britain is leading to children not being allowed to play outside where they live.

The ICM survey commissioned by children's charity Play England, questioned more than 1,000 adults and children about their attitudes to play and children's place in the community. The research found that 79% of adults believe community spirit has weakened since they were a child. This is compounded by the fact that 1 in 3 adults (30%) would be hesitant to help a child in need of assistance in their neighbourhood, because they would be worried that the child might be abusive to them. In addition, nearly half of men (44%) and 28% of women would be wary to help, in case they were suspected of attempting to abduct the child.

The research also found that 47% of adults think it is unsafe for children to play out without supervision, and that 1 in 3 (37%) parents are concerned they will be judged by their neighbours if they let their children play out unsupervised. Over a quarter of children (28%) say that, when they are playing, adults tend to think they're up to no good and more than half (55%) of parents worry that the noise of their children playing outside will upset their neighbours. In reality 81% of adults believe children playing outside helps to improve community spirit. 70% think that it makes an area more desirable to live in.

The survey suggests that children are also picking up on adult fears and anxieties. 71% of children worry about being followed or taken by strangers. They are also concerned about traffic (64%), bullying (60%) and knife crime (49%).

The research found an inclination for adults to judge children in negative terms. Whilst 70% of adults would describe them as friendly, a large proportion also described children as 'disrespectful' (54%), 'intimidating' (40%) and 'out of control' (38%), 48% of adults also believe that children today do not have respect for their community.

Despite the lack of trust and the evident fears within the older and younger generations, nearly three quarters of children (73%) say they would like more time to play or hanging out where they live. Most parents, too, believe that improving opportunities for children to play outside would improve their neighbourhoods and they want communities to pull together to create better places for children to grow up.

Adrian Voce, Director of Play England, said 'This survey highlights that children are increasingly isolated and unable to play outside with friends. More than half the parents we spoke to (54%) told us they only feel confident for their children to play outside if other children are playing out too. They want to give children that freedom but are worried about the dangers and about what people will think. The danger is that these anxieties are perpetuating a cycle of children being denied important opportunities to enjoy their childhood and develop healthy, active lifestyles. This is storing up huge problems for the future. '

'Children with regular access to playable spaces are much more likely to enjoy childhood and grow up healthier and happier. We need to build parents' confidence to let their children play out, by tackling the real barriers such as traffic and the lack of good places to play. But we also need to communicate more positive messages about children in public space.'

'The government should ensure that its Big Society programme builds up community spirit and harnesses the desire that most people have for more playable, child-friendly neighbourhoods by providing the planning framework and the support for local people to make the changes they so clearly want.'

Play England is inviting all parents and children to come out and enjoy one of the hundreds of free community events taking place across the country, on Wednesday 4 August 2010 to celebrate this year's Playday. This year's theme, Our place! aims to tackle some of the restrictions faced by children wanting to play where they live and promotes that play is essential for children and the wider community. Playday is asking everyone - young and old - to help create better places for all of us to live and play.

To view the Playday research.

Contact us
Clare Quarrell, Anna Tombs, Carmen Dafner - NCB Media Office Tel: 020 7843 6044/6045/6047/07721 097033 

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Notes for editors:

1. ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1034 adults aged 18 + by telephone between 16 - 17 June 2010. Interviews were conducted across the UK and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. They also interviewed a random sample of 1031 children and young people aged 7 - 14 across the UK by telephone between 16 - 22 June 2010. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at

2. Further research to support the Our Place! campaign is published on the Playday website at
• ICM opinion poll summary
• Review of published literature on community play
• Qualitative research from focus groups with children and young people

3. To arrange an interview with a Playday expert, find information on local Playday events or for quotes or interviews with children and parents from across the UK, call Clare Quarrell on 020 7843 6044/07721 097033 or email

4. Playday is the national day for play, coordinated by Play England, part of NCB, working in partnership with PlayBoard Northern Ireland, Play Scotland and Play Wales. The national campaign involves thousands of children and young people getting out to play at locally organised events throughout the UK. Playday events range from small-scale neighbourhood get-togethers to large-scale public events organised by local authorities, national organisations and community groups. This year's Playday campaign theme, Our place, aims to tackle the restrictions faced by children wanting to play outside where they live, and is highlighting the role of communities in shaping childhood.

Keep informed about this and other Play England campaigns