What's the Latest Development?
A three-year project by the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is the first to measure the extent to which British children are exposed to nature. Turns out the numbers are quite low: In a survey of 1,200 children, just 21 percent of 8- to 12-year-olds had a "realistic and achievable" level of connection with the natural world. The project also learned that nearly twice as many girls as boys had this basic connection with nature, and that of the UK's four countries, Wales had the lowest percentage of children with this connection (13 percent). Interestingly, children living in cities scored higher than those living in rural areas.
What's the Big Idea?
A growing body of research shows that children's exposure to wildlife and the natural world has been decreasing in recent years. RSPB head of conservation Sue Armstrong-Brown thinks part of that has to do with adults' own anti-nature attitudes: "[I]n some cases...nature is not perceived as interesting or engaging. In some cases it is perceived as a dirty or unsafe thing." The RSPB's definition of "basic connection" included four descriptions of how children feel about nature, including "empathy for creatures" and "enjoyment of nature." Armstrong-Brown says improving this connection is vital for future conservation as well as children's own well-being.
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