by Nico Brando and Katarina Pitasse-Fragoso
I know what it’s like to be small in the city…The streets are always busy. It can make your brain feel like there’s too much stuff in it.
Sydney Smith – Small in the City
More than a billion children grow up in cities. This means growing up in densely populated areas with political, and cultural prosperity, but with radical inequalities. While some have access to parks, playgrounds, and child-friendly streets, others are forced to navigate crowded roads, deal with violence, and difficult (sexist, racist, ageist) environments. Children are among the various groups (think, as well, of individuals with disabilities, the elderly, or animals) who suffer from discrimination in their right to make use of public spaces safely. Especially in large urban areas, public spaces can be highly threatening to children of all ages. Smaller children suffer from lack of accessibility, and high risk of busy roads. Older children and youths, even if able of navigating urban areas alone, can have their free movement limited due to status offences, insecurity and violence.
In this short reflection, we wish to introduce some preliminary thoughts on the issues that affect children living in urban spaces. Why are children excluded from equal use of public spaces? Do children have a right to responsive and inclusive urban design?