Streets 'no longer belong to the young'

No play makes for a dull child: AMONG Play Scotland's many demands is that the Scottish Parliament signs up in full to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among other things, this embodies an entitlement "to rest and leisure (and) to engage in play and recreational activities."

Although the UK has ratified the convention, it is accused of ignoring the undertaking that the provisions should be made "widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike". Ministers have also been slated for their failure to consult young people.

"The streets no longer belong to the children," Jim Brennan, chairman of Fife's community services committee, says. "Cars have taken over."

Reclaiming the streets for children and reasserting the virtues of play, however, have to take place against a background of widespread parental fears over children's safety. A Barnardos report in 1995 revealed that more than a third of Scottish children hardly ever play outside.

It also found that 60 per cent of parents believe their neighbourhood is unsafe for children to play. Alan Rees said: "This may not be fact but it is the perception."

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