Little is known about the knowledge and perceptions that inform children’s safety in the aquatic environment. This paper reports on 8–9 year old children’s critical thinking of water safety and safety strategies at the beach. One-to-one interview data with Year 4 students from across New Zealand, collected as part of the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement, revealed insights that will contribute to water safety education. Data was obtained from video analysis of the interviews of children who chose the beach as the aquatic environment to talk about (N = 195). Most students (80%) could identify two things they do to keep themselves safe at the beach. In addition, almost half (48%) were able to identify two beach hazards and explain why each was dangerous. Some variation in understanding was evident when data was analysed by ethnicity and decile [New Zealand school deciles are a measure of the socio-economic position of a school’s student community relative to other schools throughout the country. Deciles range from 1 (low) to 10 (high)] rating of the school attended. Unlike findings of other studies on high school and adult populations, no consistent gender differences were evident in children’s perception of beach water safety. Implications for future beach water safety education in schools and the community at large are discussed and recommendations for curriculum change are made.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
6% chose to speak about the lake; 9% about the river and 60% about the swimming pool.
Crooks, T., & Flockton, L. (1998). Health and physical education: Assessments results. Dunedin: Educational Assessment Research Unit (EARU), University of Otago.
Gulliver, P., & Begg, D. (2005). Usual water-related behaviour and ‘near-drowning’ incidents in young adults. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 29, 238–243.
Hamilton, K., & Schmidt, H. (2014). Drinking and swimming: Investigating young Australian males’ intentions to engage in recreational swimming while under the influence of alcohol. Journal of Community Health, 39, 139–147.
Johnston, S. (2016). Our deepest fear. New Zealand Weekend Herald, 20th January, pp. A20–A21.
Lapinski, M., & Viken, G. (2014). Great Lakes Swim Safety Risk Communication for 18–24 Year-Old Males: Review of Key Literature and Results of a Focus Group Study Final Report. A report to Michigan Sea Grant and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Coastal Management Program, June.
McCool, J. P., Moran, K., Ameratunga, S., & Robinson, E. (2008). New Zealand beachgoers’ swimming behaviours, swimming abilities and perception of drowning risk. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 2(1), 7–15.
Ministry of Education. (1999). Health and physical education in the New Zealand curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media Ltd. Retrieved from http://health.tki.org.nz/Teaching-in-HPE/Health-and-PE-in-the-NZC/Health-and-PE-in-the-NZC-1999. Accessed 16 Jan 2017.
Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media Ltd. Retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum. Accessed 23 Jan 2017.
Moran, K. (1992). Surf sense—A programme for 8-10 year olds. Wellington: Surf Life Saving New Zealand.
Moran, K. (1996). Surf survival—A programme for secondary schools. Wellington: Surf Lifesaving New Zealand.
Moran, K. (2008). Will they sink or swim? New Zealand youth water safety knowledge and skills. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 2(2), 114–127.
Moran, K. (2009a). Parents, pals, or pedagogues? How youth learn about water safety. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 3 (2), 121–134. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1216&context=ijare. Accessed 16 Apr 2018.
Moran, K. (2009b). Parent/caregiver perceptions and practice of water safety at the beach. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 16(4), 215–221. https://doi.org/10.1080/17457300903307045.
Moran, K. (2010a). The shaping of swimming and water safety education in New Zealand. Auckland: Tradewinds Publishing Ltd.
Moran, K. (2010b). Watching parents, watching kids: An observational study of water safety at the beach. International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, 4(3), 269–277. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.bgsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1185&context=ijare. Accessed 10 Apr 2018.
Moran, K. (2011). (Young) Men behaving badly: Dangerous masculinities and the risk of drowning in aquatic leisure activities. Annals of Leisure Research, 14(2–3), 260–272. https://doi.org/10.1080/11745398.2011.615719.
Moran, K. (2016). Beach safety education. In M. Tipton & A. Wooler (Eds.), The science of beach lifeguarding, Chapter 17 (pp. 245–252). London: CRC Press.
Moran, K., & Webber, J. (2014). Surf, sand, scrapes, and stings: A study of first aid incidents involving children at New Zealand beaches, 2007-12. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 50, 221–225.
Morrongiello, B. A., Sandomierski, M., & Spence, J. R. (2013). Changes over swim lessons in parents’ perceptions of children’s supervision needs in drowning risk situations: “his swimming has improved so now he can keep himself safe”. Health Psychology, 3(7), 608–615.
National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA). (2015). Health and Physical Education, 2013. Dunedin: Educational Assessment Research Unit (EARU), University of Otago.
Quan, L., Crispin, B., Bennett, E., & Gomez, A. (2006). Beliefs and practices to prevent drowning among Vietnamese-American adolescents and parents. Injury Prevention, 12(6), 427–429. https://doi.org/10.1136/ip.2006.011486.
Queiroga, A. C., & Peden, A. (2013). A 10 year analysis of drowning in children and adolescents aged 5–19 years in Australia: The forgotten 50%. Sydney: Royal Life Saving Society.
Sport New Zealand. (2015). Sport and active recreation in the lives of New Zealand adults. 2013/14 active New Zealand survey results. Wellington: Sport New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.sportnz.org.nz/assets/uploads/attachments/managing-sport/research/sport-and-active-recreation-in-the-lives-of-new-zealand-adults.pdf. Accessed 27 Mar 2018.
Statistics New Zealand. (2015). New Zealand in profile 2015: An overview of New Zealand’s people, economy and environment. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved from http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/nz-in-profile-2015.aspx. Accessed 28 Apr 2017.
Wallis, B. A., Watt, K., Franklin, R. C., Taylor, M., Nixon, J. W., & Kimble, R. M. (2015). Interventions associated with drowning prevention in children and adolescents: Systematic literature review. Injury Prevention, 21, 195–204.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ). (n.d.a). Beach education. Retrieved from http://www.surflifesaving.org.nz/education/school-education/beach-ed/.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ). (n.d.b). Surf to school. Retrieved from http://www.surflifesaving.org.nz/education/school-education/surf-to-school/.
Water Safety New Zealand. (2016). Annual report 2016. Wellington: WSNZ. Retrieved from http://www.watersafety.org.nz/assets/Annual-Report/7-1-SVG0024-Annual-Report-Web.pdf. Accessed 25 May 2017.
Wilks, J., Kanasa, H., Prendergast, D., & Clark, K. (2017). Beach safety education for primary school children. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 24(3), 283–292. https://doi.org/10.1080/17457300.2016.1170043.
About this article
Cite this article
Moran, K., Gilmore, A. Children’s Understanding of Water Safety and Perceptions of Risk at the Beach. NZ J Educ Stud 53, 227–239 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40841-018-0118-3
- Water safety education
- Drowning prevention
- Paediatric drowning
- Beach safety