One child drowns every minute. Why aren’t we talking about it?

2 Feb

Yes, you read that correctly. One child drowns every minute. 600,000 children a year.

My 9-year old son asked me the other day how many kids drown and when I told him one every minute he asked, ‘Then why isn’t everyone talking about it?’ Good point. If a 9-year old gets it immediately, why doesn’t everyone?

So let’s get people talking. How?

Ask Oprah to dedicate a show to childhood drowning. Join us in sending official requests to her by February 14. “Us” includes everyone from the Australian Surf Life Savers to a bunch of Navy SEALs.  We hail from a range of countries from Argentina to New Zealand.  We’re olympic swimmers, swim schools, Channel Swimmers. We’re doctors, aquatics professionals, concerned parents and devoted grandparents. Join us to save kids’ lives.

Simply click on this link to ask Oprah to showcase this issue:

Here’s what I submitted (stats from and other sources), but feel free to put your own perspective in there:

One child drowns every minute across the globe.  600,000 children per year.  An estimated 3-4 children almost drown every minute and are permanently impaired.

Drowning is as serious a threat to childhood mortality as many diseases, and it is entirely preventable.  I believe we need a global strategy to address the issue and local solutions to address cultural and geographic differences.  I believe that the joy of water needs to be recognized and embraced and that children must be taught a positive and safe relationship with water from infancy if drowning rates are to drop.  We need to change how we relate to the water, permanently.

Thank you for considering putting childhood drowning as a subject of a show – I know of no one but Oprah who could make such an immediate impact on an issue which affects all of us.  Too much has been fear and guilt and the statistics haven’t changed – we need to bring empowerment and joy and positive change if we want our children to be safe.


8 Responses to “One child drowns every minute. Why aren’t we talking about it?”

  1. Karen February 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    Not only that, but it takes a child only 20 seconds to drown. Most kids who drown in a swimming pool had been seen by an adult less than five minutes before they were found.

    Thanks for bringing light to this completely preventable tragedy.

    • Rebecca Wear Robinson February 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

      So right – it happens in the blink of an eye, and there is no parent, grandparent, caregiver alive that can keep track of their child 24/7 without a 20 second lapse – it’s not humanly possible. We have to change how we look at the issue!

    • Glendy Herron February 17, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

      Amen… is so preventable….teach these kids to turn over and cry for help!!! Miss Glendy

  2. Jenna February 3, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    Rebecca, what strikes me is something you’ve blogged about… so many people still think it’s about bad parenting. Admittedly, I did – that is until it happened to us. I’ve since learned that drowning is so quick. A child drowns in less than 2 minutes and can suffer serious, even irreversible consequences if submerged for as little as 20 seconds. It’s the attitude of “just watch your kids” that I’m trying to change. I just read an article about new legislation requiring pool alarms – which is so inadequate in my opinion, as we need to PREVENT submersion – but so many of the reader comments focused on legislation and bad parenting. I don’t know if legislation is the answer. I do know that changing our attitudes towards water safety and drowning prevention need to change or these stats will continue to rise. Especially since more and more families have pools. You can buy a 3 ft deep x 15 ft diameter pool at the store, in a box, for less than $300. And as in my case – I think above-ground pools hold a false sense of security. I’m so grateful to have “met” you. You are doing amazing work. I’ve written oprah 3 times… This show NEEDS to happen!

  3. teamingwe February 9, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    I have been trying for a year now to get the same message through to various organisations. No-one will even talk to us because they (and I quote) ‘cannot be seen to be promoting branded products’. What nonsense! When a war is being fought in earnest, the combatants must surely use ALL the weapons in their arsenal if they have any chance of overcoming the foe. Our alarms are not ‘branded’ – Child Guard and Gate Alarm are generic terms to describe the products. Nor do we profess to have the answer to Child Drownings. We promote: Secure fences and gates around the pool; swimming classes; 100% carer attention whilst children are in the pool area and, as a last line of defence, personal immersion alarms to ASSIST the carer/s in maintaining full-on supervision. Oprah has already produced a show dedicated to “Child Dangers” some time ago and I quote from that event: “Fences, nets and self-latching gates are no match for the carelessness of pool users, or the inventiveness of toddlers”

  4. Glendy Herron February 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    I have spent my life trying to save as many children from drowning as I could! 42 years and counting….I work with the PEDIATRIC groups and speak at hospitals & MOPS groups on how to keep kids safe!! TEACH THEM TO SWIM EARLY!!
    Miss Glendy

    • Rebecca Wear Robinson February 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

      I completely agree – we need to teach children from infancy how to relate to the water safely, respectfully and with joy if we want them to be truly safe their whole lives.


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