Today I have chosen a rather difficult and disputable topic to speak about. People all over the world still doubt whether children should be allowed to dive or not. Well, let us discuss.
The truth is that scuba diving is really a very difficult and risky occupation for all. One should thoroughly realize the seriousness of scuba diving and follow all the rules. Ignorance of a single rule may lead to crucial consequences. So, what do you think? Can a child realize the whole seriousness of the activity?
Some people claim that children should be allowed to dive, because they are healthier than the grown-ups, their organisms are strong, they are much braver and so on and so forth. Of course, on the one hand, these assertions can be quite acceptable. But on the other hand, let us not forget about the responsibility: the most important feature a diver should owe.
When speaking about children in scuba diving, we mean those over ten. There are some American scuba diving associations that accept kids from 10. PADI, for instance, generally accepts children at the age of 14. NAUI has a minimum age of 15. These associations accept children that have no health problems, are well-trained and can swim almost 200 meters without difficulty.
When we speak about scuba diving, we primarily imagine the incredible underwater life: the unique species of fish, the colorful sea-plants and reefs, the mysterious wrecks and caverns. There are many films and cartoons today that tell our children about the marine life and show them the beauty of the other world. And it is quite normal that most of them have the desire to enjoy the whole beauty themselves, to share the world of Nemo and the mermaid Ariel.
However, let us not forget about the great risks of scuba diving and about all the difficulties a child may face during the dive.
Let’s firstly speak about health problems a diver-child may run into. Though the child’s organism is said to be strong, it is not as developed as the adult’s. All of you know very well that the organism undergoes numerous changes while diving. A child’s organism may not react quickly to the changes, thus causing crucial results.
Besides, a child is more likely to panic in case of a slight joint pain or a scratch. As you know panic is divers’ worst enemy.
Let’s not forget that children are the most emotional creatures in the world. Sharp changes may lead to stressful situations. The underwater world is something different from the things a child sees every day. He may get into depression because of the unusual conditions or in case he fears from some marine creature.
I don’t want to sound too pessimistic, but the child may have a heart attack because of stress or fear. There have even been cases when several children died in the pool while learning to scuba dive. The doctors claim that the reason was stress.
Children are supposed to be more imaginative and flexible than the adults and grown-ups. But when they come across serious problems and have to react immediately, they lose their heads, becoming incapable of doing anything.
Of course, I do not deny the fact that there are children who are brave and have a good sense of responsibility. Such children can be allowed to scuba dive in shallow places, where the dangers connected with the diving area is reduced to minimal. However, these children should be under strict guard and protection.
A child should never dive alone, not even close to the shores. An experienced diver should always accompany him, whether the child likes it or not. No matter how responsible and skillful the child is, he needs to be protected.
Remember, the dives should not be too long-lasting. 20-minute dives are more than enough for a child-diver.
A group dive will be the best for a child. While diving, he’ll be surrounded with several people and will feel more confident and safe. This will allow him fully enjoy the dive.
Before entering the water, remind the child about the most important things he should remember during the dive. Do not remind him about the dangers. That may scare him. Just tell him to be attentive and responsible and not to panic. Assure him that he may always have his buddies’ help if needed. Later on, wish him a successful dive with a smile. Even if you are worried for the child, never show him that. He shouldn’t think that he’s doing something dangerous.
In any case, it is after you to decide whether you’d like your child to be engaged in scuba diving or not. If you feel that his wish is enormous, and he’ll be happy to scuba dive, turn to one of the numerous organizations that teach children to scuba dive. Before assigning for some course, consult a doctor to get assured that your child has no health problems.
Scuba diving is evolving day by day. Probably, in some years’ time, with the help of developed diving equipments, we’ll feel more secure for our diver-children.