14/08/2013 13:44 BST | Updated 14/10/2013 06:12 BST

Release Children Into the Wild


If we treated our dogs like we treated our children there would be uproar. With heavy boots, the RSPCA would be making matchwood of front doors up and down the country. You'd see tired-looking animals, squinting up at the sunlight and bundled in blankets being driven at top-speed to the local sanctuary.

Think I'm exaggerating? A lot of people agree with me. A 2008 survey by Play England revealed that two thirds of parents think children have less freedom to roam than free-range chickens.

Our nation's kids wouldn't even get a Freedom Food seal of approval. They're battery hens.

In Britain we're raising our children to lead sedentary, indoors lives. Poll after poll shows a downward trend in children's independent mobility. This year's Playday survey found that half of adults played out at least seven times a week when they were children. Today, it's less than a quarter.

They reckon that the area in which children roam has shrunk by 90% over the past 50 years. Whilst making my new documentary film, PROJECT WILD THING, I realised that this statistic is reflected in my own family. My mother roamed in about 50 square miles. I roamed in one square mile. My two children are free to roam just in 18 square yards.

When we do let our kids out, we follow them around like paranoid bodyguards. The number of parents ferrying their kids around has shot up, whilst children's independent mobility has plummeted. In 1971, when I was born, 80% of parents of seven year olds said their child was allowed to come home from school alone. By 2010 the figure was just 6%.

We know the excuses: roads are busier, there are dangerous strangers at the park, my child might annoy the neighbours... I understand all these worries - I'm a parent myself and I get scared when my kids are close to a busy road. But we've got to stop projecting our fears and prejudices onto our children's lives. Keeping them inside and wrapping them in cotton wool doesn't make them any safer. In fact, it's doing them harm.

Twice as many kids are admitted to A&E each year after falling out of bed than are injured falling out of trees. Children are at greater risk of being preyed upon by strangers through their computer, than they are at the park or on the streets. Time spent by children on screens is time spent at the mercy of adverts - which are designed to make children want more expensive indoor entertainment.

Playing outdoors is good for children. It makes for happy, healthy kids. Yet still we persist in letting them stay indoors. We're scared to let them play anywhere other than their bedroom or the garden, where we can keep a keen watch over them.

So this summer I'm determined to try something different. I'm releasing my two children into the wild.

Let your children roam free. Don't let them become battery hens.

David Bond's new documentary film, PROJECT WILD THING, is released in cinemas nationwide from 25 October. Find out more and join the movement at