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Abstract

This study aimed to determine and compare the nature of supervision children received in two settings that have different levels of environmental risk, an aquatic setting (public pools) and a non-aquatic setting (playground). An observational design was implemented to examine caregiver and child behaviors at six indoor public pools and four playgrounds. Chi-square tests of homogeneity were conducted to determine associations between caregiver and child variables. Pre-school children received significantly higher levels of supervision than school aged children in both settings. For school aged children the level of supervision varied between settings, with children significantly more likely to be unsupervised in public pools and poorly supervised in playgrounds. Reasons for the lack of supervision in aquatic settings remain unclear, particularly as this setting was considered to be of higher environmental risk, because drowning rates are high for young children. Because evidence indicates inadequate supervision is common in aquatic settings, further investigations are required to identify ways to promote closer supervision practices, and determine caregiver perceptions regarding their responsibilities when supervising young children in aquatic settings.

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