Over 40 percent of children said they did not feel safe on public transport and walking in and beyond their neighbourhoods. A quarter (25 percent) percent said they did not feel safe in their city and one out of four said they did not feel safe in parks.
These statistics were gathered by UNICEF who conducted a survey to establish what children thought of their cities, and which were the most pressing challenges. The results, presented at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Urban Development (Habitat III), revealed that access to services, safety and protection, social inclusion and economic resilience were the most prominent challenges.
In response to this, Child safety advocacy organisation Childsafe has partnered with UNICEF and the University of Cape Town to launch of a new three-day short course on designing safer cities for children – The Short Course on Child-Responsive Urban Planning focuses on road safety, street design for children and safe school environments.
Run over three days, between 28 and 30 October, the course aims to sensitise transport professionals, urban spatial planners and designers, government officials, academia and civil society to the benefits of developing urban settings, including streets and schools, that place children at the centre. The programme also provides an insight into how children’s vulnerabilities are related to the built environment where they work, learn and play.
Yolande Baker, Executive Director at Childsafe, said: “When cities are designed by and for adults, children need to navigate challenges in the same way that an adult would. But this immediately places them at a disadvantage, and in danger. Children are not little adults. They are children, with unique needs and abilities. This course is an opportunity to reflect on what children need, what they see, and how they experience our cities. That gives us a chance to think differently about how our cities are designed and to prioritise the safety and development of children as we do so.”
The course is also open to the general public who have an interest in designing cities for children. Delegates will be introduced to a practical planning toolbox, with child-responsive urban planning tools that enable them to analyse a situation and to formulate solutions appropriate for the specific area in question.
Participants will also be invited to co-produce action plans and suggestions for changing behaviours with children and communities, that can be measured, monitored and evaluate as those plans progress.
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