Are parents just treading water? The impact of participation in swim lessons on parents' judgments of children's drowning risk, swimming ability, and supervision needs
Drowning is a leading cause of child mortality globally. Strategies that have been suggested to reduce pediatric drowning risk include increased parental awareness of children's swimming ability and drowning risk, improved adult supervision of child swimmers, and providing swim lessons to children. This study explored how parents' beliefs relevant to children's drowning risk, perception of children's swimming ability, and judgments of supervision needs changed as children aged two through 5 years accumulated experience in swim lessons, and compared a parent group who received regular, detailed feedback about their child's swim skills with one that did not. Parents completed questionnaire measures near the beginning and end of a series of 10 weekly swim lessons. Results revealed that parental accuracy in judging children's swimming abilities remained relatively poor even though it improved from the beginning to the end of the swim lessons. Supervision needs were underestimated and did not vary with program or change over the course of swim lessons. Children's ability to keep themselves from drowning was overestimated and did not change over lessons or vary with program; parents believed that children could save themselves from drowning by the age of 6.21 years. Parents who had experienced a close call for drowning showed greater awareness of children's drowning risk and endorsed more watchful and proximal supervision. Results suggest that expanding learn-to-swim programs to include a parent-focused component that provides detailed tracking of swim skills and delivers messaging targeting perceptions of children's drowning risk and supervision needs may serve to maximize the drowning protection afforded by these programs. Delivering messaging in the form of 'close-call' drowning stories may prove especially effective to impact parents' supervision practices in drowning risk situations.
Available from: Sandy K Wurtele
- "Recently, Setien, Han, Zuniga, Mier, Lucio and Treviño (2014) utilized a Spanish injury prevention curriculum with Latino parents and found some knowledge gains at post-and follow-up testing, but called for continued education in areas such as bicycle and water safety. Given that parents participating in injury prevention programs have been primarily Caucasian and English speakers (e.g., Damashek & Kuhn, 2013; Morrongiello et al., 2013), there is a need to develop and evaluate prevention education programs that can be used with more diverse populations, including Latinos. "
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ABSTRACT: Unintentional injuries pose a significant threat to the health of young children. Although environmental changes, enhanced parental supervision, and legislation are important measures to prevent childhood injuries, educating children about safety is an essential component to effective primary prevention. In this pilot study, a convenience sample of 301 preschoolers (82% Latino) participated in a behavioral-skills training program to prevent injuries and were compared to controls (n = 45). Participants were pre- and post-tested on their knowledge of general safety rules related to riding in vehicles, crossing the street, being lost or alone, and playing with guns and matches/lighters. Other than knowing to wear a seatbelt, pre-test data showed a concerning lack of knowledge regarding safety. There were significant increases in safety rules knowledge after training. Findings support the value of training preschoolers in multiple areas of safety as one important strategy for the primary prevention of unintentional injuries.
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ABSTRACT: Although fatal drowning rarely occurs in swimming pools, this event has a very grave impact on the swimming pools employees, notably when they have been directly involved in the rescue and resuscitation. At the same time, very little data are available on the incidence, causes and outcome of pool drowning. It is important that pool lifeguards understand that a cardiac arrest after drowning is different from the primary cardiac arrest due to an infarction or ventricular fibrillation and that oxygen is the most vital aspect of the resuscitation measures. The use of a pool safety plan and the implementation of a checklist, training in realistic pool-related resuscitation scenarios and record keeping of accidents and near-accidents may be helpful to be better prepared on a drowning incident.
Available from: Barbara Morrongiello
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The aim of this longitudinal study was to determine how children's participation in swim lessons impacts parents' appraisals of children's drowning risk and need for supervision.
Parents with 2-5-year old children enrolled in community swim lessons completed the same survey measures up to 4 times over an 8-month period.
Multilevel regression analyses examining temporal relationships between parents' perceptions of their child's swim ability, supervision needs around water, and children's ability to keep themselves safe in drowning risk situations revealed that as children progressed through swim lessons, parents' perceptions of their child's swim ability and their belief that children are capable of keeping themselves safe around water increased. Further, the relation between parents' perceptions of swim ability and judgments of children's supervision needs was mediated through parents' judgment about their child's ability to secure their own safety near water.
As parents perceive their child to be accumulating swim skills, they increasingly believe that children are capable of keeping themselves from drowning, and as a result, that less active parent supervision of their child is necessary. Implications of these findings for intervention efforts to counter this unwelcome way of thinking that may arise through continued participation in swim lessons are discussed. Incorporating a parent-focused component into children's learn-to-swim programs to promote more realistic appraisals of children's supervision needs and drowning risks may further enhance the positive benefits that swim lessons have for children's safety.
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