Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children, but minority children are drowning at much higher rates.


" /> Minority Children Lead in Drowning Deaths | News | Mississippi Public Broadcasting
Images audio

Minority Children Lead in Drowning Deaths

By Daniel Cherry | Published 02 Sep 2011 12:50pm | comments
Gavin Wilson teaches students how to swim at the Jackson YMCA

On average about ten people drown every day in the U.S. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how minority children are much more likely to die in the water, but some in Mississippi are working to make a change. 

Minority children ages 5 to 14 are three times as likely to drown than white children. At the Jackson YMCA several children are getting their first swimming lessons. Jordan Naomi signed her granddaughter, Laraye, up for classes.

"I just want her to learn how to swim because if she ever has to, and we have a pond near our house. So I want her to learn how to swim so she doesn't drown."

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for all children under the age of 14, and in Mississippi males, especially African American males, are five times as likely to drown than a female. Gavin Wilson is a lifeguard and swim instructor at the YMCA. He says young males are often overconfident in their abilities.

"Most of their parents aren't home with them during the time that the pools are open so they never get a chance to (swim). And once they see a pool, everybody thinks they can swim. So they just jump in not knowing that, 'I don't know what I'm doing'."

Many times, if parents can't swim then their children won't learn either. Jay Leadbetter trains lifeguards and water safety instructors for the Red Cross. He says parents, especially those who can't swim, have to keep a watchful eye.

"Just taking the kids to the pool is not enough. You've got to keep your eyes on them, and a lot of the parents don't know what drowning looks like. Some people still have that stereotypical idea that drowning is, they're going to wave their hands and holler, and that's just not going to happen that way. The kid is going to slip under the water, and they're not going to splash around any. They're going to go under the water, and they're going to stay under the water."

Leadbetter says taking classes with a certified instructor is the best way for children to lessen their chances of drowning.


Gavin Wilson teaches students how to swim at the Jackson YMCA



MPB will not tolerate obscenities, threats/personal attacks, hate speech, material that is ethnically or racially offensive, abusive comments, comments off topic and spam, to name a few. You can see a complete list of the MPB guidelines by viewing our terms of service. If you spot a comment you think violates these guidelines, report it to the moderators by clicking "x" next to the comment, then "report”. MPB reserves the right to adjust these guidelines. If you have a suggestion, please contact us.