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What children’s perspectives on safe and dangerous outdoor play can tell us about their risk-seeking and injury experiences: ‘You don’t feel right doing the thing that got you hurt’


Background Unintentional injuries are a leading cause of children’s hospitalisations and death globally and are thus a pressing public health concern. Fortunately, they are largely preventable, and understanding children’s perspectives on safe and dangerous outdoor play can help educators and researchers identify ways to mitigate the likelihood of their occurrence. Problematically, children’s perspectives are rarely included in injury prevention scholarship. In this study, we acknowledge children’s right to have their voices heard by exploring the perspectives on safe and dangerous play and injury of 13 children in Metro Vancouver, Canada.

Methods We employed tenets of risk and sociocultural theory and a child-centred community-based participatory research approach to injury prevention. We conducted unstructured interviews with children aged 9–13 years old.

Results Through our thematic analysis, we identified two themes: (1) ‘little’ and ‘big’ injuries and (2) risk and danger.

Conclusion Our results suggest children differentiate between ‘little’ and ‘big’ injuries by reflecting on the potential loss of opportunities for play with friends. Further, they suggest children avoid play they perceive as dangerous, but enjoy ‘risk-seeking’ because it is thrilling and provides them with opportunities to push their physical and mental capabilities. Child educators and injury prevention researchers can use our findings to inform their communications with children and make play spaces more accessible to, fun and safe for children.

  • Child
  • Qualitative research
  • Playground
  • Pain

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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