Position Statement #4: Trauma Free Lessons

Swimming lessons free of force and trauma

The treatment of children in ISSA swim schools must be free from force, toxic stress  and actions that are likely to inflict trauma. 

The United Nations in their Convention on the Rights of the Child, states that all  appropriate measures must be taken to “protect the child from all forms of physical or  mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or  exploitation … while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who  has the care of the child.” 

A universal theme supported by all ISSA Swim Schools is absolute respect for the rights  of the child. This includes listening to and validating input from the child about their  needs, and how they are feeling at all times – including any form of communication from  the child, including verbal, non-verbal, crying, physical resistance, body language and  withdrawal.

Whenever there are indications a child is unhappy, disengaged, withdrawn or upset, the  focus must immediately be on calming them, comforting them, and returning the child to  a state of comfort and active engagement. This will often involve facilitating the child’s  connection with their primary carer, especially if a separation between the parent/carer and child was contributing to the child’s distress. 

Creating stress in a child is never rationalised because of the skill being developed. The  end does not justify the means. The experience the child has, and the process they go  through, is of paramount importance. 

Swim Schools around the world play a key role in helping families and their children  grow into healthier, happier, and safer people – The swimming lessons they provide  must be free of force, toxic stress or trauma. 


Convention on the Rights of the Child. United Nations, 2014