De-bunking Myths Over Scotland’s Cotton Wool Kids

Care Inspectorate Blog

De-bunking Myths Over Scotland’s Cotton Wool Kids

Care Inspectorate Blog

Ronnie Hill Care Commission DirectorMyths claiming that children are being discouraged from enjoying physical play because regulation is causing nurseries and care homes to create a ‘cotton wool culture’ are nonsense, a major conference is to hear.

Ronnie Hill, Director of Children’s Services Regulation for the Care Commission, is to tell the Children, risk and responsibility: encouraging confidence in a risk-averse society conference regulation should not hinder children’s play.

In his talk to the event, organised by Children in Scotland and Play Scotland in Stirling, Mr Hill will argue that the Care Commission wants to encourage good risk management, not risk aversion.

And he will stress the importance of giving children plenty of opportunities to get outdoors, explore the environment, develop their skills, gain confidence and have fun.

He said: “Children and young people can’t gain the skills which will help them develop their independence and assist them to make good choices, if they are wrapped in cotton wool, and if they are not encouraged to assess and manage risk for themselves.

“On the other hand, those with responsibilities for caring for children and young people can’t take a cavalier approach to their safety and well-being. So we need to strike the right balance.”

“The importance of appropriate risk taking in children’s physical and emotional development is crucial. All activities will have some degree of risk associated with them. What is important is that the service has thought carefully about the risks involved, considered best practice and guidance, consulted the children’s parents, assessed that the risks are not unacceptable, and planned to control and manage any risks.”

Using Scottish PR to Dispel Myths 

Mr Hill said he is keen to dispel urban myths that have come the Care Commission’s way, such as: “If you want to take young people fishing you need to tie them to a tree.” Or: “If young people are going to the beach they need to be tied together.”

He is also to explain that agreeing how nurseries and other care providers manage risks with young people, parents and staff can help get the right balance between play and safety concerns.

Mr Hill added: “Unfortunately, a number of urban myths have circulated that Care Commission policy prevents nurseries from encouraging physical activities for children.  The simple answer is that this is untrue.

“Ideas for new activities or ways of doing things should not be discounted simply because an element of risk may be involved. We want to encourage good risk management, not risk aversion. We know that qualified and confident staff are familiar with managing risk.

“They know that being innovative and delivering stimulating educational activities goes hand in hand with good risk assessment and risk management.”

“We know that thousands of regulated care services across Scotland are providing excellent opportunities for our young people and they are managing risk well.”


Issued on behalf of the Care Commission by Holyrood PR, 0131 561 2244.

Notes for Editors:

1. Children, risk and responsibility: encouraging confidence in a risk-averse society is being held at King Robert Hotel, Stirling on Wednesday 7 October 2009 beginning at 9:15 am.

2. Other speakers include Minister for Children and Early Years Adam Ingram; and Tom Hodgkinson, author of How to be Idle, How to be Free and The Idle Parent. The conference will also hear from Neil Blake and Rachel Cowper of Inspiring Scotland, the agency charged with implementing the Scottish Government’s new £4 million ‘Go Play’ programme. 

3. The Care Commission, established in 2002, regulates around 14,500 care services that provides care to some 320,000 people. It is committed to regulating for improvement and developing a care sector that adheres to and exceeds the National Care Standards.

4.  Children in Scotland is the longstanding national agency for the whole of the children’s sector, reaching over 250,000 individuals through our extensive membership of more than 450 statutory agencies, voluntary sector organisations, professional associations and community groups. For further information visit

5. Play Scotland was formed in 1998 to make the child’s right to play, underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a reality in Scotland. For further information visit

Release issued by Scottish public relations agency Holyrood PR – experts in digital and traditional media public relations.