Monday, 21 July 2008

News from Persil

- Persil research shows British children are being deprived of their childhoods -

The lack of childhood is currently the subject of much discussion as experts debate the phenomenon currently labeled ‘Broken Britain’. New research released to mark the launch of Persil’s Every Child Has The Right campaign predicts that unless we take action to break the cycle now, the next generation is also forecast to enter adulthood lacking vital life and social skills.

The study by Persil, conducted in conjunction with experts in youth development and play; Doctors Jerome and Dorothy Singer of Yale University, highlights the erosion of childhood. 85% of UK mums are concerned that children are growing up too quickly and 64% believe children are being deprived of childhood through the lack of play. Modern living is having an impact on children being able to enjoy the simple childhood pleasures as experienced by previous generations.

The report indicates that UK mums have a strong understanding of the importance of childhood play in developing life skills vital for adulthood including imagination and creativity, development of language, expression and self-confidence and parents are concerned about the consequential gulf in development that a lack of unstructured, free play in childhood creates.

Key findings in the UK:
• 71% - Mums worry that kids won’t form good relationships without social play
• 73% - Agree that free play is key to children’s creative development
• 61% - Mums report their children are difficult if they don’t have play time

As a result, Persil is launching its Free Play Initiative 2008, a nationwide scheme aimed at helping parents find inspirational ways for their children to express themselves through imaginative, unstructured play. This culminates in the support of Playday, the annual celebration of children’s right to play, on 6 August 2008.

Kris Murrin, child behavioral expert and consultant to the Persil Free Play Initiative said: “If we can increase play in childhood years, we can help increase emotional development and social skills needed for later on in life. In turn, this will provide reassurance of a safe environment for our future generation to grow up in. Children need to be encouraged to behave like children and most importantly need time to explore and play in order to have formative experiences if we are to break the cycle of Broken Britain.’

For more key findings and a summary of qualitative research conducted by the Persil Mumsnet Panel please log on to media site


For more information, to interview campaign spokespeople including Persil Every Child Has The Right consultant and child behavioural expert Kris Murrin,
please contact Kate Collis or Fiona Davidson or telephone 020 7693 6999

Notes to editors
19% of UK mums want to supervise their children’s activities – the highest % of mums globally. (Argentina: 18%, USA: 15%, South Africa: 14%, France: 10%, China: 8%, Brazil: 7%, Turkey: 5%, India: 4%, Thailand: 6%)

UK children have one of the most overscheduled childhoods, with only 46% agreeing that happy, well developed children need to be free from strict schedule, compared to: Argentina: 45%, USA: 57%, South Africa: 58%, France: 66%, China: 69%, Brazil: 62%, Turkey: 47%, India: 75%, Thailand: 85%)

Estelle Alty, Persil Brand manager, said: ‘Children need to have time to play and have formative experiences. Every Child Has The Right to play, which is central to our brand belief. We hope that by bringing attention to the issue and launching the Persil Free Play Initiative to give parent’s easy, fun ideas of free play we will spark parent’s imaginations just as play does a child’s.’

Amy Little, Playday campaigns officer, said: ‘Play is an integral part of children’s healthy development, and evidence shows that children and young people cannot play out as much as they would like. We’re pleased that Persil is campaigning for children to be able to play out more and that they support the Playday campaign. We hope that everyone can join in the fun on Playday this year!’

Why is free play important?
Unstructured, social play in childhood is shown to improve the ability to form social relationships, boost imagination and creativity, develop language and expression as well as raise self-confidence, skills which are vital in adulthood.

The Persil ‘Every Child Has The Right’ 2008
The research was managed by New York based Strategy One – a specialist applied research firm. Strategy One is a full-service corporate positioning, market research and strategic communications agency. The company combines strategy and proprietary market research with multiple levels of media and competitive intelligence and analysis.

The study was commissioned in conjunction with leading experts in youth development and play Doctors Jerome and Dorothy Singer of Yale University, two leading researchers in the area of youth development and play. Their role was to provide expert guidance and support to the study hypotheses, quantitative research design and analysis.

Interviews were conducted in each of the following countries: The USA, Argentina, Brazil, UK, France, Turkey, India, Thailand, China and South Africa.

What is free play?
• Free Play does not mean UNSUPERVISED
• In the process of free play, children develop their mental, emotional and social skills
• Free play is both INDOOR and OUTDOOR play
• Acts of free play includes exploring in the garden, climbing trees, making mud pies, creating a den in the corner of the room, making up role play games and dance routines

What is Playday?

Playday is the annual celebration of children’s play, coordinated by Play England, based at the National Children’s Bureau, working in partnership with PlayBoard Northern Ireland, Play Scotland and Play Wales. Now in its 21st year, the national campaign involves thousands of children and young people getting out to play at locally organised events. Playday events range from small-scale neighbourhood get-togethers to large-scale public events organised by local authorities and national organisations. Persil is a proud supporter of this year’s Playday, taking place nationwide on 6 August 2008. For more information about Playday events and this year’s Give us a go! theme, visit

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