Does fencing playgrounds make them safer or does it encourage lazy parenting?
Kids of all ages love going to the park. But often the choice of park is dictated by the parents or grandparents – they want one with easy parking, near a coffee shop, with a toilet nearby, and many prefer to choose one that is fenced.
For Newcastle mum Louise Carey, hearing so many mums discuss the stress of visiting unfenced parks has sparked her into action. She is petitioning the local council to place more fences around playgrounds.
“Some kids have more of an exploring nature, or are what you’d call ‘runners.’ And when some of the mothers are heavily pregnant or breastfeeding, you start to notice the issue where we are really struggling to find outdoor play areas where we could supervise that number of children without danger,” says Mrs Carey.
With over 260 signatures so far, the petition asks the council to fence priority playgrounds such as those near busy roads or near water.
Her work seems to have started a fence or no-fence debate. Some say that fencing a playground would lead to an increase in lazy parenting, as parents might feel that they don’t need to supervise their kids.
On the pro-fence side, mothers of more than one child who visit busy parks say that they don’t have a hope of keeping up with their little ones who try to make a break for freedom.
For grandparents, who are often regulars at the park these days, having to try and catch "a runner" in an unfenced playground could be difficult to impossible.
“We do have a growing demographic of grandparents who are becoming significant carers while parents are being forced back into the work force — a situation Tony Abbot is pushing harder for — so we’re going to see a lot of grandparents taking up a greater role,” says Mrs Carey.
Fenced or not, the responsibility of parents and carers at the park is great. There are flying legs from swings to avoid, slippery slides to navigate, and of course there is always the management of toddler arguments to look after. Having a fence might make the park slightly less stressful, but it’s still going to require a careful eye on the little people who are in it.
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