As my youngest child enters the NSW Kindergarten system, I question the why the full sun protection behaviours in Australia’s early childhood education centres aren’t carried through into Primary Schools? The skin Cancer Council states that childhood and adolescence are critical periods during which exposure to UV radiation is more likely to contribute to skin cancer in later life. So why aren’t our educators encouraged to carry on the habits the kids have already established in pre-schooling years?
The Cancer Council notes that Western Australia and Victoria have SunSmart programs in their schools (The Program). Why is this not Nation-wide? When 2 out of 3 Australians are diagnosed with Skin Cancer before 70, doesn’t it make sense for the Australian Government to protect our youth from Cancer when they are most vulnerable?
It’s a hot summers day is NSW, and the UV is 11.8 (EXTREME). A UV index reading of 11 or more means extreme risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. The warning are:
- Take all precautions because unprotected skin and eyes can burn in minutes.
- Try to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- If outdoors, seek shade and wear sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
My children will be eating lunch and playing sport outdoors whilst their sunscreen protection has worn off. Although, they will have hats on due to the 'no hat, no play rules - they will be playing outside in the middle of the day without adequate sun protection. They can’t avoid it...
One of the strategies is to request children to BYO SPF30 (or higher) broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen to school – one that suits their skin. This is great, but the educators really need to 'make' the kids to apply, when necessary, set the habit! My son, in Senior Primary, indicated that it would not be ‘cool’ to do this in front of his peers. Furthering my thoughts on setting the expectations and discipline when they enter in Kindy.
Thoughts…? Should it be 'Not hat, No cream - No play??'
I do understand some parents are adverse to sunscreen (or certain types). Please don't take offence to this article. If the school children were told to apply, it would be with parental consent. I am a big sun protection Mummy and I'd like to see my kids apply their sunscreen in the same way we do at home. I might even sneak a few beach tents up to the school for safe play ;-)
Ally, SunPlay Australia