Black Youths at Increased Risk for Drowning

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A recent study released by USA Swimming and the University of Memphis found the majority of Black children are at risk for drowning.

The study, “The Constraints Impacting Minority Swimming Participation, Phase II,” found that 70 percent of Black children have low or “no swim” ability, compared to 40 percent of White children. Researchers also concluded that Black parents’ own fears about swimming play a major role in their children’s inability to swim.

The study was conducted Feb.1 – May 26 and surveyed more than 2,000 children and parents in six cities across the country, including Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Memphis, Minneapolis and San Diego. This is the second part of a study released in 2008 that exposed the dangers many Black children face while enjoying water activities.

According to the report, the fear of drowning was the strongest predictor of swimming ability, along with the belief that chlorine is particularly harmful to African-American skin and hair. Also, Black children who are able to swim are less likely to receive training from a certified instructor. Twenty-six percent of Black children surveyed said they taught themselves to swim, which researchers believe may promote a false sense of self confidence.