A group has called the attention of parents and the government to the unusually high risk of drowning in Taiwan, citing statistics showing that Taiwanese children are three times more likely to drown than Australian children.
Officials of the Jing Chuan Child Safety Foundation made the remarks at a Taipei press conference yesterday.
According to numbers released by the WHO and cited by the foundation, only 0.5 out of 100,000 children up to 14 years old in Australia died while playing in water in 2001.
The figure in Taiwan, however, was 1.8 per 100,000 person, "which is three times higher than the figure in Australia," Lin Yue-chin (林月琴), executive director of the foundation, told the press conference.
Statistics released by the foundation showed that accidental death has been the No. 1 cause of death among children since 1994.
Within that category, drowning claimed the second-largest number of lives.
"Both the government and the parents should be responsible for ensuring that children are safe while playing in water," Lin said.
Appropriate warning signs must be visible where children are at a risk of drowning, Lin said, adding that this is the government's responsibility.
"The words on many of the signs we inspected have already faded, while other signs were covered by moss or advertising banners," Lin said.
Education is another measure the government should take, Lin suggested.
"Our field investigation found that only 3.56 percent of schools nationwide require that their students learn to swim," Lin said.
"In addition, swimming lessons should consist of more than just letting students learn to swim. Students should be taught practical survival skills in water, especially in emergencies," Lin said.
Meanwhile, Lin emphasized that parents must also share the responsibility.
"During our field investigation, we also saw many parents allow their children to play in rivers alone, or while being monitored from a distance," Lin said.
"An emergency can occur at any moment and can take your child's life in just seconds," Lin warned.
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