Kids learn from 'few grazed knees or bruised elbows'

London, Oct 09 (ANI): In a bid to get rid of Britain's 'cotton wool culture' and encourage youngsters to play outdoors, new Health and Safety regulations have recommended that children should be encouraged to climb trees and graze knees.

In a move, which has been hailed as a victory of common sense, new guidelines say children should be allowed to take risks while councils have been warned not to pander to over-anxious parents.

A report issued by the Health and Safety Executive and Play England says organisations designing play areas should allow for a "few grazed knees or bruised elbows" if children gain from the experience, for example learning how to ride a bike on rough ground or use a climbing frame.

Mick Conway, of Play England said 17,000 guides have already been ordered by local authorities and schools hoping to build modern play areas.

He emphasised that the guide still insisted the play area is as "safe as reasonably possible" and protects against major injuries.

But if children can benefit from challenges like climbing, running or trying new stills then it allows for minor injuries.

"We do assess risk and hazard but we look at the benefits to children too and take a balanced approach," the Telegraph quoted Conway as saying.

"There has been too much of a cotton wool culture. People accept that children need more challenges while staying safe and that a few bumps and scrapes are all part of growing up," added Conway.

The guide warns that if playgrounds fail to stimulate children then the more risk-taking youngsters will seek challenges in more dangerous settings.

The report said health and safety was 'no longer about creating a risk-free society.'

Andy Wright, Countryside Manager at Box Hill where the National Trust is building a new adventure playground, said children cannot experience the countryside without taking risks.

The new natural play area will use natural materials like logs and trees for children to climb, balance on or clamber over.

Wright said children may slip on a wet log or graze themselves on a branch, but they are learning to be confident in the outdoors.

"These days kids are so closetted compared to 30 years ago. This is a controlled way of allowing them a bit of bravery, a bit of risk taking and perhaps picking up a minor injury," he said.

Barry Baker, Principal Inspector at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), endorsed the new approach.

"The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recognises the importance of play in children's lives and for their opportunities to learn about risk.

"Its application of risk-benefit assessments is a sensible approach to the health and safety management of play provision," he said.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has pledged to bring about wider reform of the health and safety rules governing teachers, nurses and police to enable them to make "common sense" decisions. (ANI)

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