Turning the tides on child drowning
Rebecca Wear Robinson
Stay current on water safety awareness:

We know drowning is a global epidemic, but we don’t actually know how many people drown.

We know that every hour of every day, 42 people lose their lives to drowning, but we also know that we can’t officially count the drowning deaths in more than half the countries on Earth, countries where we know drowning rates are extremely high.

We know that the official drowning death toll is almost two-thirds of that of malnutrition and well over half of that of malaria, but we also know that if we had data from every country, drowning could be two, three, or even more times the documented death rate. We think drowning deaths would surpass malaria and many other causes of death, but we don’t know for sure how many people drown.

We have no way of knowing. Yet.

UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both recently identified drowning, and especially child drowning, as a neglected and hidden global epidemic.

The only thing we know for sure is that we can prevent child drowning.

The more we learn, the more we understand that drowning may be the one truly global threat to all of our children, but a threat that is almost entirely preventable.

We need to revolutionize the way people all around the world think about water. That’s my mission. I’m using social marketing to raise awareness about drowning prevention and education to show people the basic behavioral changes they can make to end this epidemic.

Professionally, I’m a consultant, engrossed for years in data analysis and business. Personally, I’m a mom and advocate for children. In 2007, when my analytical mind met the statistics of children drowning, my mothering heart broke. So many lives lost, so many communities grieving, so many parents wondering what they could have done.

I poured myself into months of intense research, embraced a passion for children’s water safety, and became an agent for global change. Since then, I have worked tirelessly to educate the world on water safety and drowning prevention. Is it a tall order? Yes. Do I believe we can make a difference? Absolutely.

  • We can create lasting, positive, age-appropriate messages about water safety that resonate with children—like the Jabari™© global awareness campaign.
  • We can adapt those messages for local use, based on the world’s diverse cultures and traditions.
  • We can share those messages through a wide variety of channels, as high-tech as social media and as high-touch as visits to remote villages.
  • We can change people’s conceptions about drowning prevention and water safety.
  • We can work together to save the lives of countless children.

Around the world, many passionate people are already engaged in drowning prevention. Researchers study and report trends. Lifeguards perfect life-saving techniques and protect as many lives as they can see. Advocacy groups, many of them established by parents who have lost a child to drowning, build local awareness.

It’s time to unify these minds and voices with one cohesive, global campaign to end the epidemic of child drowning. We need a message that cuts through the clutter of everyday life and touches people’s emotions. Adults have to understand why water safety education is so important, and children have to be engaged to learn more about drowning prevention.

Fire safety has Smokey the Bear. We need an equally powerful and recognizable way to tell the world, “You, too, can prevent child drowning.” Working together, we will help save the lives of countless children each year.

Dive In

Here’s how you can get involved:

  •  Join the movement. If you are already involved in drowning prevention, contact me today to discuss how you or your organization can participate in the global campaign.
  •  Embrace the methods. Maybe you want to understand how social marketing and education could help your organization prevent child drowning or address some other water safety issue. Contact me to learn how I can help you learn and strategize.
  • Share the message. If you are a blogger, journalist or speaker who can communicate the importance of drowning prevision, please contact me. If I can’t personally answer your questions, I will refer you to another member of the drowning prevention community.
  • Learn more. Maybe you’re an analyst or mom or socially conscious human being who, like me, heard about this cause and feel compelled to know more. There are several resources in the sidebar of my website to get you started. You can also opt to receive periodic emails from me.
  •  Support the cause.  Whether you’d like to help children in your own community, at-risk children in your country, or help some of those children most at risk in low-income nations, I can point you in the right direction, just drop me a line and I’ll connect you with the right people so that you can make a difference.
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