Longer recesses in greener playgrounds would prevent aggressiveness among children!
For a long time, we wanted to write an article on the positive impact of regular contact with nature on aggressiveness, especially among children. We imagined how being enclosed between walls only going out twice a day to a concrete playground could increase their stress and enhance aggressive behaviours.
And we were right…
Exposure to nature reduces aggressiveness in communities
A recently published study, in the journal BioScience, revealed some striking facts. Contact with nature appeared to have a significant effect on promoting community ties and reducing violence. Controlling other factors such as socioeconomic deprivation, population density and unemployment, exposure to nature accounted for a full 8% of variance in community cohesion. Exposure to nature is also linked with reduced crime. “Green spaces in a community accounted for 4% of variability in crime rate” according to the report.
In previous articles of this blog, we proved that playing in nature reduces the impact of life’s stresses on children. It also helps them to be more resilient when dealing with adversity. And most importantly, studies show that the more children spend time outside, the more they benefit from it!
Both statements clearly support that nature can have a positive effect on the way we behave with each other. Nature improve kids’ happiness overall and helps us deal with frustration, anger or stress, emotions which often lead to aggressiveness among children and adults. Especially kids who suffer from attention deficit or hyperactivity can be tremendously helped by participating in group activites with other children in nature.
2 recesses of 15 minutes, mostly in concrete playgrounds…
Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at the pupils’ environment through one of the most important moments of the day for them: recess, which is spent outside, often if it’s not raining too much. Yet, here, in Amsterdam, it seems to be set to the absolute minimum: just 15 minutes, twice a day, is what’s mandatory. Quite surprising when we know that the WHO recommends at least one hour a day for prisoners ! Of course, children can also play outside after school. But 39% of children never do.
Another concerning aspect of recesses is the setting: rubber installations to avoid injury, sometimes a concrete football rectangle with ground markings, some stunted plants or even a bare space. Mostly without trees because, as we were told, ‘branches can fall’.
Bring back nature in schools !
If green surroundings effectively reduce aggressiveness, shouldn’t we request greener playgrounds in the schools, for the well-being of our children ? It could effectively reduce bullying, stress and aggressive competition.
Children should be in contact with local nature everyday, for several hours, whatever the weather.
To raise awareness among the teachers, Naya Nature also works with schools, here in Amsterdam, and provide field trips and forest schools. We encourage them to bring their children in Nature and collaborate with classes to support them into greening their environment.
Learn more :
- Gezondheidsraad – Heath Council of the Netherlands, The influence of nature on social, psychological and physical well-being
- Rapport Birdlife international, Le bien-être grâce à la nature dans l’Union européenne, Edition française, Service Éditions de la LPO, 2008