As a long school year comes to an end and summer rapidly approaches, kids from all over the country are excitedly waiting for their three months of freedom. Sleeping late is anticipated, but many children are also excited to spend warm days at the beach or pool. However, many are missing a key component to safety during pool days - Swimming lessons.
Some parents belong to pool clubs or visit a town pool regularly and are able to sign their children up for swimming lessons. However, many children do not experience this, heightening the likelihood of having difficulty while swimming and/or drowning. An article from the Red Cross reports that drowning is the second highest cause of death for children ages 1 to 14. Every day, about 10 people die from drowning as measured by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As seen, drowning is a serious issue that requires attention and preventative efforts.
Although the concern of drowning affects everyone, research has shown that drowning occurs at higher rates in certain populations. The CDC reports that 80% of drowning deaths are males. Additionally, non-white children are a higher rate than white children for drowning deaths. In particular, African American children ages 5-19 years old are 5.5 times more likely to die by drowning than their white counterparts. Therefore, the risk of drowning is present for all, but certain identities hold a higher risk.
Although tragic, there is hope to reduce drowning since there are many preventative measures that can be relatively easily taken. The first being quite obvious: swimming lessons. As some children do not have access to a pool in their backyard or country club, I suggest that swimming lessons should be a mandatory component of physical education classes in schools. In addition to physical education classes, community groups and camps should also offer swimming lessons alongside their other programs. Further preventative measures include a "buddy system" for swimming so that a child is never left by him/herself in a pool, swimming at pools and beaches with lifeguards on-duty, and always keeping a vigilant eye on children who are swimming.
Swimming is fun but can also be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. Thus, I believe swimming lessons should be a mandated component of physical education in all public and private elementary schools. What do you think?