Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Published letter


Last week the North Shore Times ran several major articles on the effects on children being brought up in high-rise. The paper asked Premier Morris Iemma whether his government was providing enough outdoor space to cater for the thousands of people pouring into the units forced into our communities. In typical politician style the Premier ignored the question by responding with a completely meaningless motherhood reply.

I thought we need to put some facts before the community and sent the following letter to the paper which published it prominantly in its edition of 6 June:


The concerns expressed in "Where will the children play?" (Times 30 May) are born out by a recent university study of children brought up in units in Fairfield. The study found there is a lack of safe active play space outside units. Few units allow for visual supervision from higher floors and parents generally cannot let younger children out of the unit unsupervised. Most parents avoid using local park areas due to poor security and due to the use of these areas by local youth and the socially dysfunctional.

Keeping children quiet leads to parenting that emphasizes activities that are sedentary. Crawling and walking is being stymied due to space problems with very young children having little access to areas for meaningful activity. This leads to children becoming overweight from an early age. It also leads to children constantly demanding attention and expecting it. When they finally enter the education system the result is behavioural problems.

For years Save Our Suburbs has been warning the Department of Planning about the deleterious effects on children of the high-density being forced onto communities. No response to our submissions has ever been received.

Of course these facts will be water off a duck's back to the high-rise developers, the politicians who receive their donations and the rabid ideologs who promote high-density. They care nothing about our children or about those who will never be able to purchase a house as a result of their disgusting policies.

(the reference to the study to which I refer is Children in the Compact City: Fairfield as a suburban case study, Professor Bill Randolph, University of New South Wales, October 2006)


Mover said...


A close family relative grew up in an apartment his whole life in Stockholm city. He is one of the most balanced and active people I know. He finds living in suburbia a strange, quiet and daunting experience especially with the ageing population. I therefore question your assumption about children being so much worse off growing up in med-density areas. What gives you the opinion that urban sprawl is so much safer when with one whisper of a rapist or murderer leads parents to lock their kids up at home and stick them in front of the TV anyway?

I am trying to like your ideas, but I'm just not convinced.


Anonymous said...

One needs to look at the whole picture as individuals vary according to personality and particular circumstances.

With regard to Sweden, a huge study of over 4 million Swedes found that the rates for psychosis were 70% greater for the denser areas where there was also a 16% greater risk of developing depression (“Urbanisation and incidence of psychosis and depression – Follow up study of 4.4 million women and men in Sweden”, Kristina Sundquist, Golin Frank and Jan Sundquist, British Journal of Psychiatry, 2004, 184, 292-298).

In Australia it has been found that the happiest electorates tend to have a lower population density (“Australian Unity Well-being Index”, Professor Robert A Cummins, School of Psychology, Deakin University).

I know of an exchange student from Singapore who certainly finds it strange to live on the ground floor for the first time. But she much prefers this and talks of the suicides that occur among high-rise dwellers in Singapore.