Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(9), 3134-3148; doi:10.3390/ijerph9093134
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Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development

1 Department of Pediatrics, School of Population and Public Health, British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit, Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia, British Columbia Children’s Hospital, L408-4480 Oak Street, Vancouver, V6H 3V4 BC, Canada 2 British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit, Child and Family Research Institute, L408-4480 Oak Street, Vancouver, V6H 3V4 BC, Canada 3 Department of Pediatrics, British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit, Child and Family Research Institute University of British Columbia, British Columbia Children’s Hospital, L408-4480 Oak Street, Vancouver, V6H 3V4 BC, Canada 4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 4770 Buford Highway NE F-62, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 July 2012; in revised form: 3 August 2012 / Accepted: 22 August 2012 / Published: 30 August 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Injury Prevention)
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Abstract: Injury prevention plays a key role in keeping children safe, but emerging research suggests that imposing too many restrictions on children’s outdoor risky play hinders their development. We explore the relationship between child development, play, and conceptions of risk taking with the aim of informing child injury prevention. Generational trends indicate children’s diminishing engagement in outdoor play is influenced by parental and societal concerns. We outline the importance of play as a necessary ingredient for healthy child development and review the evidence for arguments supporting the need for outdoor risky play, including: (1) children have a natural propensity towards risky play; and, (2) keeping children safe involves letting them take and manage risks. Literature from many disciplines supports the notion that safety efforts should be balanced with opportunities for child development through outdoor risky play. New avenues for investigation and action are emerging seeking optimal strategies for keeping children “as safe as necessary,” not “as safe as possible.” This paradigm shift represents a potential for epistemological growth as well as cross-disciplinary collaboration to foster optimal child development while preserving children’s safety.
Keywords: injury prevention; outdoor play; risky play; active play; child development; playground safety

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MDPI and ACS Style

Brussoni, M.; Olsen, L.L.; Pike, I.; Sleet, D.A. Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 3134-3148.

AMA Style

Brussoni M, Olsen LL, Pike I, Sleet DA. Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2012; 9(9):3134-3148.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Brussoni, Mariana; Olsen, Lise L.; Pike, Ian; Sleet, David A. 2012. "Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal Child Development." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 9, no. 9: 3134-3148.

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