New research reveals parents in England restrict child freedom

Monday 10th August 2015 07:36 EDT

We often blame Asian parents, for pushing children to study more or focus on only career or be restrictive far more than other communities. However a new international research by Policy Studies Institute (PSI) at the University of Westminster has revealed that parents in England are more restrictive than those in other European countries, granting their children less freedom to travel and play in their local neighbourhood unaccompanied by adults.

The research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, compares children’s independent mobility in 16 countries around the world based on a survey of over 18,000 children aged seven to 15 from 2010-2012. The study found that children’s independent mobility – their ability to travel and play in their local area unsupervised by adults - varies widely across the 16 countries. Significant restrictions are placed on children in nearly all the countries surveyed with the research revealing that fear of traffic was the biggest factor influencing their decision.

England’s aggregate rank placed it in seventh place behind top performing countries including Finland and Germany. Overall, Finnish parents allowed their children more freedom for almost every independent mobility indicator in this study. The degree of independent mobility granted to children in Finland is striking, with a majority of children aged eight allowed to cross main roads, travel home from school and go out after dark alone.

Going out alone after dark is the most withheld indicator of independent mobility. Children of any age are allowed to go out after dark in only a handful of countries – Finland, Sweden, Japan and Denmark.

The research further adds, England needs to develop its policies in order to improve children’s independent mobility, with the report outlining seven recommendations on how to achieve this. These include reducing car dependency and adopting Daylight Saving Time to allow children to utilise daylight hours and reducing road casualties. 

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