- You have a right to rest and to play, and protected from things that could harm you
- You should feel safe whilst enjoying your free time when you are playing out or in an organised activity
- If something has happened to make a place where you go feel unsafe, you can take action to change things
Things like litter and rubbish, dogs, other children and young people, broken or unsuitable equipment, and some adults can make the places where you go to spend your free time unsafe. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened you may not relax properly and enjoy the time you have to play or be with friends.
Litter and rubbish can make somewhere feel unwelcoming and unsafe. Some rubbish can also be dangerous: broken glass or used needles can cut you and make you sick. Rubbish, especially dangerous rubbish, needs to be cleared up by specialists who have the right equipment to keep safe.
Local councils can fine people who leave litter in public, so if there is a problem where you go to play, you could let the council know.
Depending on where you live in Wales and the places that you go to play, there may be a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in place which says that people can’t take their dog there. Local councils can put a PSPO in place to cover a particular area which might include a park where you go. Even if dogs are allowed, they may have to be on leads and not allowed to run free. If there is a PSPO in place to stop people taking their dogs to the park or public space where you go to play, there should be a sign up explaining this. If someone takes their dog there and doesn’t follow the rules, they could be fined. If someone has their dog somewhere where it shouldn’t be, you should get in touch with your local council, which made the PSPO, to report it.
Anyone walking a dog has to clean up if the dog does a poo. People who don’t clean up after their dog can be fined.
If you’re in a public place, you have the same right as anyone else to play and relax there. If other children or young people are making you feel uncomfortable and trying to make you go somewhere else, you can decide what to do to try and sort things out. You could try and find somewhere else to go or you could try and work out a way to stay so that everyone can enjoy the same place. If someone is threatening you or hurting you, you should tell an adult that you trust, or talk to the police.
If someone has broken equipment where you play or used spray paint to leave unpleasant graffiti, they have broken the law. If you know who did it, you can think about telling an adult, or the police, about what has happened. This may stop that person doing something like that again, but it won’t necessarily change the damage that’s been done, so you may have to get in touch with the person or organisation responsible for the park to get equipment mended or replaced or to get graffiti removed. There should be a sign on the park that tells you who to contact if there is damage to equipment.
If you are at a playground with play equipment that is designed for you to play on and you get hurt because something is broken, you, or your parents should get in touch with the organisation that is responsible for the playground to report the accident, particularly if it is more than just a scratch or small bruise or if something more serious happens to you. They will want to make sure the equipment is safe for you ad other children to play.
Sometimes, play equipment will have a sign up saying it is only suitable for children above a certain age, or below a certain age. This will usually be a ‘guideline’ and In most cases, you will be able to decide whether or not you think you can play on the equipment without getting hurt. If you are with an adult who is responsible for you, he or she may make a decision about whether you can go on something or not.
It’s worth remembering that if a piece of play equipment is designed for younger children, you might break it and spoil it for younger children if you go on it and you are too big for it!
All adults involved in working with children have to be checked to make sure they haven’t done anything in the past which would make them dangerous to children and young people. If you have any worries about anyone who is organising any activity you are involved in, you should let someone – an adult you trust - know about it.
If there are adults where you play who aren’t involved in organising your activities in any sort of official capacity (they are just members of the public, not youth workers or leaders etc), and you’re in a public place, there won’t be any checks on who they are and whether they are safe around children and young people. If you are worried about something, tell an adult that you trust what’s happening. It’s not usually a good idea to talk to an adult you don’t know (unless it’s someone like a police man or woman), especially if you aren’t with an adult.
If adults or other children or young people are using the park where you play to drink or take drugs, the council might set up a PSPO to try and stop this. If you’re worried about how adults are using a space where you play, you could talk to your local council or perhaps contact the police.