Our heart breaks for the family who recently lost twins to drowning in Oklahoma City. We were further saddened to learn that they have received hateful and shaming messages to amplify their unimaginable grief and devastation. Everyone thinks the issue of drowning is as simple as keeping an eye on your child, in actuality nearly 9 out of 10 drownings occur while the child has adult supervision.
Supervision is just one of the Layers of Protection to prevent childhood drowning, and that is not where our culture is failing; to effect large scale change – it starts with awareness. Most people do not know that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children 1-5. Most people do not know that formal swim lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88%. Most people don’t think about when a child is walking and mobile it significantly increases that risk of drowning. Most people do not know how critical pool fences and barriers are to saving lives around water. We do not know, because we are not told. Most people don’t know that drowning is the #1 reason a child will not make it to kindergarten. Awareness comes from education, so where does education come from?
When we are talking about the danger that takes more children’s lives than fire, choking, car accidents, electrical accidents, EVERYONE has to take responsibility. Right now, organizations like NDPA, PPCD, SDN, and swim schools across the country have been screaming for help to put this issue at the forefront. Our children are taught stop, drop, and roll in every elementary school across the country, but water safety is overlooked. Pediatricians talk through other health issues, but most are not educating our families on the dangers of drowning.
It is time to stop shaming families that are dealing with tragedy and start understanding that drowning can happen to anyone, even families who have been vigilant and taken steps to protect their family. Instead of pointing fingers at families that are already feeling immeasurable pain, let’s put our focus on supporting organizations that can truly change the culture and level of awareness to drowning prevention. ‘Supervision shaming’ not only hurts the family that is already hurting, it oversimplifies the problem and perpetuates the misconception that drowning prevention only requires an adult’s attention.
To make lasting and systematic change, we have to work alongside elementary schools, daycares, pediatric groups, and drowning prevention organizations to truly educate our communities on the significance of the problem and the solution of Layers of Protection.
~Brian & Megan Bachman, OSA Owners