Is it Important to Teach Lithuanian Children Swimming? Analysis of Drowning and Schoolchildren`s Knowledge of Safe Conduct at the Water

Ilona Judita Zuozienė, Gintarė Akelytė, Aurelijus Kazys Zuoza


Background. Research  aim was to investigate statistical data of children and youth’s (19 years old and under)
deaths  from  drowning  in  the  period  from  2000  to  2012,  as  well  as  to  establish  the  I–IVth  form  students’  self-
assessment of swimming skills and knowledge of safe swimming and safe conduct at the water.
Methods. Statistical data analysis and questionnaire survey methods were used in the research. The content
of the questionnaire consisted of questions about the subjective self-assessment of personal swimming skills and
knowledge of safe swimming and safe conduct at the water. Research sample included I–IVth form students, n = 949
(459 girls and 490 boys). The research results were analysed using statistical methods and SPSS 15.0 for Windows.
Results. Statistical data analysis showed the facts that during the period of 2000 to 2012, deaths of 487 children
and youths (19 years old and under) were caused by accidental drowning, which on average accounts for 37.5 deaths
yearly; 80.3% of all drowned persons were males.
The  data  of  the  questionnaire  survey  showed  that  67.2%  of  students  reported  that  they  could  swim.  Boys
evaluated their swimming skills better than girls (x 2  = 12.486; p < .05), although in most cases they were able to swim
only short distances. The knowledge of children of the same age about safe conduct at the water was not statistically
different in the aspect of gender (p < .05) and it was correct enough. However, even 22.7% of students (23.1% of the
girls and 22.2% of the boys) would dare to swim alone if they had an inflatable wheel, mattress or other tool (p > .05).
Conclusions. Among the research participants, 30.4% of the girls and 20.4% of the boys could not swim (χ 2  =
12.486; p < .05). Most of the students were aware of the rules of safe conduct at the water, but some of them had
rather  poor  knowledge  about  this.  In  case  of  emergency  in  the  water  students  would  respond  differently  to  the
situation: 84.2% of the students themselves would not jump to rescue drowning people, but they would turn to adults
for help or cast life-saving tools. However, part of the boys (16.6%) were more likely than girls (6.9%) to jump
to rescue friends (p < .05) at the risk of their own life. Children’s responses show that even in primary grades it is
important to familiarise children with ways and means to rescue drowning people.

Keywords: drowning, swimming skills, water safety, self-assessment.

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