Turning the tides on child drowning
Rebecca Wear Robinson
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How Can Children’s Safety Transcend Political And Cultural Barriers?

by Rebecca Wear Robinson on November 23, 2009

I just read an article that linked high, increasing childhood drowning rates in New Zealand to schools closing their pools. http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/drownings-cause-serious-concern-3175756#. The principal of one school states, ‘”I think that it’s a community responsibility. Yes, they (kids) are here during the day and there’s parents, but in the interest of the safety of our children now and in the future, I think it’s a community responsibility.” I’m American but I’ve also lived in the UK and in France and have been around the world. Every country has a different level of involvement in people’s lives and within each country people have different expectations of how much the government should be involved. Aside from the obvious emotional attachment we have to our children, children are a future economic resource and drowning is an economic cost. One estimate places the total lifetime annual cost of children drowning at $6.8 billion, in the U.S. alone. The total cost of a single near-drowning that results in brain injury – $4.5 million. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately collecting information on drowning prevention and water safety programs, and there are a lot of outstanding organizations working on the problem, but drowning is still the second leading cause of death for children in virtually every developed country, and a leading cause of death in developing countries. Why is this? Why isn’t protecting children an unquestioned global priority? What programs are accepted and embraced in your country or community? Could they translate to other countries? How can we all work together to leverage our resources and move that frightening ‘second leading cause of death’ statistic permanently out of second place?

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