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Children Feel Safer With Boundaries

Years ago, a series of studies set out to determine how a fence and a boundary affected the behavior of children in the playground. The researchers constructed a playground with no fences. During the experiment, the children stayed in the center—almost in fear—and never ventured out beyond the playground structure. Then the researchers put up a fence. Immediately, the children's behavior changed. Instead of fearfully staying in the center of the playground, they wandered with freedom all the way to the fence, exploring and enjoying the entire space.

The researchers concluded: "The overwhelming conclusion was that with a given limitation, children felt safer to explore a playground … With a boundary, in this case the fence, the children felt at ease to explore the space." In other words, fences brought freedom. It was the absence of fences that created fear and apprehension.

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