Youth aged 15 – 24 years continues to remain the highest age group at risk of drowning. In the last five years, from 2013 – 2017, 76 youth have drowned in New Zealand, comprising one fifth (19%) of the total preventable drowning (WSNZ, 2018).
Research shows extensive evidence of unsafe behavioural practices among male youth during aquatic recreation, the frequency of at-risk behaviours provides persuasive evidence as to why so many more males than females drown. The at-risk behaviours among young males are also evident in other studies on adult males.
Male youth are shown to report higher levels of water confidence, exposure to risk behaviours, and exposure to unsafe locations, and more ‘near-drowning’ incidents, than females. In addition, males and females who are ‘confident’ in the water were more likely to recreate in unsafe water locations (Gulliver & Begg, 2005; Moran, 2006; Moran 2008).
Higher perceived swimming competency among youth is associated with a lower perception of risk, implying that some individuals (especially young males) may underestimate risky situations through overestimation of their swimming competence (McCool et el., 2008).
Fewer males, low decile school students, and Maori students considered schools as their most important source of water safety knowledge, and males were ten times more likely to identify friends as their most important influence on water safety knowledge (Moran, 2006), suggesting traditional school and community aquatic education programmes for youth may need to be revised.
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(3), 238-243. doi:10.1111/j.1467-842X.2005.tb00761.x
McCool, J., Ameratunga, S., Moran, K., & Robinson, E. (2009). Taking a risk perception approach to improving beach swimming safety. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 16(4), 360-366.
Moran, K. (2008). Taking the Plunge: Diving Risk Practices and Perceptions of New Zealand Youth. Health Promotion Journal of Australia.19(1), 68-71.
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.
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.
Moran, K. (2008). Youth aquatic recreation: The pleasures and pitfalls of an aquatic lifestyle in New Zealand. In Noemie P. Beaulieu (Ed.), Physical Activity and Children: New research. (pp. 35-63).Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
Moran, K. (2008). Parents, pals, or pedagogues? How Youth Learn about Water Safety. Fact Sheet 5. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand, 41(2), 14-18.
Moran, K. (2008). Taking the plunge: New Zealand youth diving practices and attitudes. Fact Sheet 4. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand, 41(1), 14-18.
Moran, K. (2007). Water safety knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of young Pasifika New Zealanders. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 42(1&2), 161-169.
Moran, K. (2007). What youth know about water safety: Fact Sheet 2. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand, 40(2), 14-18.
Moran, K. (2007). What aquatic recreation youth do in New Zealand: Fact Sheet 1. Journal of Physical Education New Zealand, 40(1), 14-18.
Moran, K. (2006). (Young) men behaving badly: New Zealand male youth aquatic recreation and drowning risk. Proceedings of the ICHPER-SD 1st Oceania Congress, Wellington 1-4th October.
Moran, K. (2006). The Adolescent Years: Youth perceptions of their water safety education. Symposium paper presented at the ICHPER-SD 1st Oceania Congress, Wellington 1-4th October.
Moran, K. (2006). Water safety knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of Asian youth in New Zealand. In Tse, S., Hoque, M.E., Rasanathan, K., Chatterji, M., Wee, R., Garg, S., & Ratnasabapathy, Y. (Eds.) (2006). Prevention, protection and promotion. Proceedings of the Second International Asian Health and Wellbeing Conference, November 11, 13-14. Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland.
Moran, K. (2006). Taking the plunge: Diving risk practices and perceptions of New Zealand youth. Proceedings of the 8th Australian Injury Prevention Conference, Sydney, 27-29th September.
Moran, K. (2004). New Zealand Youth Aquatic Recreation. Proceedings of the International Physical Education New Zealand Conference, Wellington, September 22-24th, 2004.
Moran, K. (2003, November). New Zealand Youth Water Safety Survey 2003. Report on youth water safety activity for Water Safety New Zealand. Wellington: WSNZ.