LETTING children play away from home without adult supervision is vital for their physical, social, cognitive and emotional development.
But parental concern about road safety, strangers and social dangers are the chief reasons some parents are reluctant to let their children out of sight meaning they could be missing out on opportunities for more physical activity, according to a Deakin University study.
The study is just one source being used by Orange City Council staff as part of a strategy to set the future direction of play facilities in the city.
Among the many topics it will cover, the strategy will assess how far Orange residents have to walk to access their closest park or open space and will also look at ways to ease parent’s reluctance to let their children roam.
Parents and grandparents the Central Western Daily spoke to at Elephant Park shared many of the fears raised in the study.
The study showed parents were more likely to let their children have independent mobility if they perceived traffic in their street was slow and that there were traffic-calming features such as speed humps.
But for Alissa Murray the chief reason she rarely lets her nine-year-old son Connor go to the nearby park about 500 metres from her home on his own was stranger danger. She is also worried about him being injured while alone.
“He’s my only child so I want him to be safe,” she said.
“Nine out of 10 times we like to go to the park all together.”
The study found boys were usually given greater levels of independence than girls.
Nathan Barrett said he was unlikely to ever let his two-year-old daughter Rylee-Jade out of his sight, but with another baby on the way he admitted he may treat a son differently.
He regularly takes Rylee-Jade to Elephant Park despite the closest open space near his home being Glenroi Oval.
The study also suggested independent mobility helped children build social relationships, have a stronger sense of community, less fear of crime, and reduced feelings of loneliness during adolescence.
Christine Hannus said she liked to keep a close eye on her grandsons Harrison and Cameron because of other children playing.