Is it Safe for my Children to Play Outside?

Is it Safe for my Children to play outside?

Today most parents are very dubious for their children to play outside because of the constant threat of crime. In this article I am going to explore this idea and work out why there is so much fear among people and see if these fears really have a solid foundation. Most new parents today will be extremely careful and overprotective of their children's outdoor habits but is that really justified?

Do you think Children want to play outside?

See results without voting

Do Children Want to Play outside?

Most young parents today will be children of the 80s and will remember a very different world. Have times really changed that much in the last thirty years? In the 80s the world was just a very different place socially and technologically. Children wanted to hang out with their friends all the time as it was their main outlet from school and homework. Family life had already deteriorated from the 1950s and there is a much dissipated sense of family unity today. Immigration was at a high and children loved to be outside playing with their friends. Even though that is still true today children have many more distractions in the home. Children, teenagers and even adults today are watching more and more television, exploring the wider world from the internet and spending their lives playing graphically impressive games consoles. This is one big cause for children spending less time out on the streets, and more time in their homes. Through modern digital technology children can play with their friends using games consoles, where they artificially play / explore / adventure in exotic locations. Today everyone has a mobile phone, including the young children. Parents see it as a way to keep track of their children, whilst the young see it as a way to communicate with their friends. It is so easy now for children to be actively in contact with their peers without needing to be physically with them. Social media networks such as Facebook and My Space have pushed this further.

If you compare the rich countries such as England, The United States or Germany with poorer economic countries such as Kenya or Rwanda you will see a big change in Children playing outside. Kenya and Rwanda are as safe as the developed west, but Children still play outside. The ability to afford digital distracts (Televisions, Xbox, Play stations etc) is one of the major causes of this.

Crime

**All crime statistics below are based on London, England**

London is a culturally diverse city with millions of residents in the greater area. There is a great consensus among the people of London, and probably other major cities around the world that children no longer play outside due to the rising threat of crime. As a child who grew up in the early 90’s; myself and most of my peers would spend our time on our bikes cycling in the local area or playing in the local parks. There was very little parental supervision, and this was very socially acceptable.

Crime statistics have not always been recorded but for the last ten to twenty years the metropolitan police of London have openly recorded statistics and shared them with the public. I am going to explore these figures, and try to work out if there really is an increased threat of crime on the streets.

Homicide:
In 1990 there were 184 homicides in London. In 2009 there were 136. This figure has fluctuated through the years, but the number of murders has remained relatively low, and relatively consistent. Below is a table outlining the number of murders per year in London, and a graph that visually shows the change over the last twenty years.

Year
Homicide Total
1990
184
1991
184
1992
175
1993
160
1994
169
1995
167
1996
139
1997
190
1998
159
1999
146
2000
171
2001
190
2002
189
2003
204
2004
182
2005
168
2006
162
2007
156
2008
148
2009
136

Assault with Injury:
Crime statistics have only been recorded for the last decade in this field, but the figures once again are fairly consistent. Due to population fluctuations these figures refer to assault with injury crimes in London per 1000 people. There is also a visual graph to show the change through the decade.

Year
Assult with Injury (per 1000 people)
2000
5.6
2001
5.6
2002
5.6
2003
5.8
2004
9.4
2005
11.2
2006
10.4
2007
9.5
2008
9.5

Gun Crime:
Gun Crime in London has been fluctuated through the last decade. In 1999 there were 2961 crimes that fell into this category and that figure rose for three years. The Metropolitan Police started to heavily crack down on Gun Crime and the figures have reduced in the last five years. Below is a table of statistics and a visual graph.

Year
Gun Crime
1999
2961
2000
3250
2001
4005
2002
4444
2003
4025
2004
3744
2005
3881
2006
3327
2007
3459
2008
2525
2009
3295

Knife Crime:
Much like Gun Crime these figures were rising at the turn of the millennium but they have started to settle down and plateau now the police are heavily focussing on reducing crime in these areas.

Year
Knife Crime
2003
10305
2004
12985
2005
12367
2006
12301
2007
10699
2008
12345
2009
12611

Robbery:
In London Robbery has always been a major threat. In 1996 there were 32867 robbery offences and in 2009 there were 33463 robbery offences. In the intervening thirteen years the figures rose, but they are now falling due to an increase police presence and harsher punishments.

Year
Robbery
1996
32867
1997
28442
1998
26330
1999
32924
2000
40992
2001
53547
2002
42496
2003
40640
2004
39033
2005
45311
2006
45771
2007
37000
2008
32555
2009
33463

Looking at all the statistics and figures above we can see that the figures have all shown signs on increasing in the early years of this millennium. Due to increased police presence and tougher sentencing these figures have started to drop and we can see the future of crime does look more promising.

From the data we have, we can assume that the increase in crime in the early 2000s would be a very strong reason for parents to be fearful for their child’s safety. The Kidnapping of children appears to follow a similar trend to the other crimes but there is no solid data to back up this premise. With the slight dip in crime over the last few years parents should be more comfortable for their children to play outside, but with the fresh memory in their minds of how bad things have been it is not going to be an easy change for the nation, or the world.

Media
Today we live in a world where news is instantaneous and abundant. There is no shortage of a story wherever you look. Generations ago newspapers were the only source of general up to date knowledge, but now there is the television, radio, internet and intense advertising. With all these additional media formats more and more stories are reaching our eyes and ears. When a child is attacked or kidnapped the whole world is informed very quickly and the story is drilled into our hearts and minds. I believe the Media is a very key factor into the fear parents have nowadays as everywhere we turn we hear of a child being kidnapped, attacked or injured. The stories no longer get only one feature, but often now they get several follow up features and the plight of the family is often portrayed in a way that instill fear and sympathy into the public.

On the whole I think there is definitely a constant danger for children to play outside, but this danger is extremely minimal. This threat has always been there since the beginning of civilization but today we are just more exposed to it. I think parents need to be protective of their children, but they also need to remember how they were when they were young and realize that crime hasn't changed that much in a generation.

More by this Author


Comments 2 comments

jose7polanco profile image

jose7polanco 4 years ago from Los Angeles

I live in a high criem area in Compton, CA. Children do play outside as we do not have that much money to put a laptop on every single room. But they only go out for 2 hours when its daylight and some times have to come in quickly. I dont have children but i live with my friend who has one. He is 8 and never goes out, he only stay playing batman on an xbox. My friends and other people call it "the real world" when they come outside and hang out.

I am 18, spend most fo the time in school, working, and outside enjoying my life, but of curse i carry my laptop everywhere.


naeemebrahimjee profile image

naeemebrahimjee 4 years ago from London Author

Thanks for your comments Jose7polanco.

I do agree with your main point of how people today spend their time in the digital world instead of the real world. I do slightly worry about what the future will be like. I don't want the fun times of my childhood to be lost in the past, a thing never to be seen again.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working