Rome, March 13 - Only 8% of Italian school children return home on their own, compared to 76% and 25% of their German and British counterparts, respectively, Italy's national research council (CNR) revealed on Wednesday. Italian children's already limited freedom of movement continued to shrink in recent years, dealing a significant blow to their psycho-physical development, concluded CNR in a study promoted by London's Policy Studies Institute with the collaboration of Germany and 15 other countries. "Children's freedom of movement has gone from 11% in 2002 to 7% in 2010," said Antonella Prisco, a researcher at CNR's Institute of Cognition Science and Technology (ISTC-CNR). Meanwhile, young children's use of public transport is low in all three countries: 3% for Italy, 3% for Britain and 8% for Germany. However, by secondary school the percentage of children taking public transport leaps to 25% in Britain and 64% in Germany, whereas in Italy it remains 3%. Italian boys are more autonomous than Italian girls, researchers found. "The possibility for children to move autonomously permits a fundamental play experience, helps prevent obesity and excess weight, helps them acquire confidence, self-esteem and the capacity to interact, reinforces ties with people who live in their own neighborhood, develops a sense of identity and responsibility, and reduces the sense of loneliness during adolescence," Prisco said.