After drownings, community discusses accountability of teaching kids to swim

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- After two pool drownings in a week, people around the community discussed the accountability of teaching kids to swim Monday.

One of the drownings happened at a city pool on South Orleans after a 13-year-old jumped the fence on July 5th. The other happened at an apartment complex pool over the weekend.

"He doesn't know how to swim, and for his safety, I keep him at home," said parent Ebonye Bess, referring to her son.

Bess said she believes parents are accountable for teaching their children to swim, but she wishes swimming lessons were more affordable.

The city's Aquatic Centers website said swim lessons cost $25 for a two-week session. The site has not been updated in a year.

Parks and Neighborhoods Director Janet Hooks said the city offers free clinics before the summer pool season. However, she said the city also works with parents on costs.

WREG asked Shelby County Schools if it thinks swimming should become part of curriculum.

The district was busy running its online registration event and did not comment, but District Attorney General Amy Weirich was there and said, "I mean, certainly, anything and everything we can teach our children is going to make them better adults."

Hooks said the city has worked with certain schools in the past to teach swimming. She said the Division of Parks and Neighborhoods is willing to offer services to anyone in the community.

As for accountability, Hooks said the city is responsible because it has the facilities, but parents are also responsible for their kids.

"Which is why we continue to emphasize that if your kids are going to be around water, we want to make sure they are safe," Hooks said.

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