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Why are all School’s not tackling sun safety?

14th July 2019

Did you know children as young as 14 can get preventable skin cancer?

It appears that in the UK many Nurseries and Childminders take sun safety seriously. However this is not the case in all schools. This article should help convince all schools that an enforceable sun safety policy is essential in safeguarding all children so that children do not get sun burn at school and go on to have skin cancer as a result. School’s have a duty of care to protect children from sun damage by UV rays during the hours they are in school and if they do not take measures to prevent sunburn they could be accused of neglect.

Research

The number of cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer is rising at an alarming rate in the UK. Most of these cancers can be prevented by using sun cream and protecting yourself and children from the sun to avoid sunburn. Children’s skin is particularly more delicate and easily damaged.

Cancer Research UK have developed guidelines for schools which the Early Years Staffroom have used to develop an editable Sun Safe Policy that involved staff, children and parents that you can simply use in your school.

The National Institute for Heath and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for skin cancer prevention (2011) recommends that schools ensure they have a sun safety policy to prevent the growing rates of skin cancer.

The NHS recommends prevention by completely avoiding sunburn, using factor 30 sun cream at least and taking extra care with children.  They say ‘sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. Sunburn does not just happen on holiday. You can burn in the UK, even when it’s cloudy’.

SKCIN Cancer UK say “Investing in Education and awareness by teaching all school children about sun safety and the dangers of over exposure to UV, we can work toward a culture change and shift in attitudes that will reduce the soaring rates of skin cancer in our future generations and those to come”.

Who’s responsible for children getting sun burnt during school hours?

It is the school who has the children during school hours and is therefore their responsibility. Schools can insist children wear sun cream before school but what if a parent forgets in the same way a water bottle may be forgotten, would the school then not provide water? A policy must be in place to protect children. Sun safety is also part of PSHE in the Primary Curriculum and Health and Self Care in the EYFS, a mandatory part of children’s education.

Allergies

What about allergies? Children can bring in own sun cream or a parent’s can signs to say they can use the school sun cream and are aware of allergies.

Sexual abuse allegations

Teachers may ask, ‘What if I get accused of abuse when I put suncream on?’ some schools even have outdated policies stating Teacher’s cannot put suncream on children as young as 3. They would rather children get sunburnt, which is neglect. Children just need sun cream applying to their arms, bottom of legs, neck, face and arms. If this is done in the presence of two members of staff and children are encouraged to do this independently how can they be accused of abuse? This attitude needs to change and change only happens if you make it.

Sun Safe Policy

The policy that we have created includes; collaboration, working with parents, educating children in sun safety and how to protect children and staff from sunburn.

Make a difference

Please share this article with Head Teachers so that they can introduce a Sun Safety Policy at your school and protect children from preventable skin cancer.

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