I went to a presentation recently where a Barwon Health researcher reported that 20 percent of children in the Geelong region had behavioural or emotional problems.
If we have 60,000 kids under 15 in Geelong, that means at least 12,000 have some sort of mental disorder.
No-one knows the actual causes but my thoughts are that we have a generation of cottonwool kids.
The fabric of our society has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades. There are far more marriage break-ups, which are disruptive to children’s lives.
There are a lot of other factors, too: excessive screen-time, far too much sugar and fatty junk food, kids being driven to school instead of walking or riding.
There’s a sad lack of children allowed to be just children, with a kid’s sense of adventure and exploring — climbing things and taking risks.
I wonder about how much preprepared foods, which often have preservatives, we have. What is the long-term effect of the continual intake of these substances?
I wonder also if kids with behavioural and emotional problems turn to experimental drug use as late teens because they’ve dealt with minimal or no risk while growing up.
Within Villawood Properties’ communities, we do our best to create as many activities as possible to encourage kids off their screens and outside the house.
We also create playgrounds with as much challenge and as many risks as possible – within Australian standards and what councils will allow us to install.
We like to bring in more basic elements – timbers, trees, rocks, water and sand – for kids to play in.
The main focus of society is protecting our kids. But many people use this as an excuse not to expose kids to these elements.
Ultimately, this means the very risk mitigation everyone is using to rule their kids’ lives is the very thing actually putting the physical and emotional development of kids in danger.