A report prepared by Demos for Play England reveals that in the UK today there are three times more cars than children. To be precise, in a total population of just under 61 million, there are now 33 million cars and 11 million dependent children.
I don’t react with horror to these statistics, thinking “Bad, bad car owners!”. But they, and the other issues highlighted in the report, give me pause for thought.
Take the reported comments of report co-author Celia Hannon, for example:
“With cars outnumbering children by three to one, the acceleration of house building, and the privatisation of public space, places once used by young people for playing and exploring rites of childhood are quickly being swallowed up.”
When I was a child, I and many of my peers went out of our way to skive off games sessions. Running around school playing fields in winter wind and rain was certainly not our idea of fun, but it did keep us fit and active. These days school students are increasingly being denied the opportunity to engage in physical education. Land is an extremely valuable financial asset, and many local authorities are more than happy to flog off playing fields to property developers.
As for keeping fit, the trend these days is for adults and children to visit gyms and centralised leisure centres. And how do they get there? By car, of course!
Hat tip: Richard Sanderson