Is drowning a problem or is it a symptom of a deeper issue? And why even debate semantics when kids keep dying?
I believe that drowning is actually a symptom – it’s what happens when we develop an adversarial relationship with water, and with children. And I believe that unless we peel back the layers and look at the root causes of why children drown we won’t create lasting change. We’re just putting band-aids on the problem, and we all know that band-aids have a tendency to come off in the water.
Children are not the enemy and keeping them away from water without giving them an understanding of how to relate to water safely is not the answer. Kids can sniff out a hypocrite at a hundred yards and so buying fun bath toys, taking them to the beach or the pool because water is fun (and it is!), and then telling them to stay away without explaining why? Or worse, not telling them to never go near water without an adult. Mixed messages with fatal results.
We need to peel back the layers of our relationship with water and address the root cause of why children keep dying – because we have lost our ability to relate to water in a healthy manner. We need to take an anthropological and behavioral change approach to look at the relationship we have with water – across cultures, genders, and ages – and then build programs that create lasting change.
We need to treat the problem, not the symptom.