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Sunburn risk for children at school

15th July 2011

A cancer campaign group has said that all UK schools should be required to have a comprehensive sun safety policy to protect children from skin cancer.

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The warning from Skin Cancer UK follows a recent survey of 1,000 parents commissioned by MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Skin.

It found that almost 40% of pupils have suffered sunburn while at school.

Richard Clifford of Skin Cancer UK said this figures was unacceptable.

He added: “Admittedly teachers cannot be expected to apply sunscreen due to simple time pressures. There is also the inevitable question regarding their concerns over child abuse and the strong advice they receive from local authority education departments and trade unions.

“However, there is no reason whatsoever why they should not supervise the application, perhaps with the assistance of the school nurse or indeed parents who attend on a pre-arranged rota system.”

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) suggests parents could provide sunscreen for their children who could, in turn, be taught how to apply it for themselves and their school-friends and has offered guidelines that recommend schools run awareness campaigns to alert children to the harms of too much sun exposure.

But while Cancer Research UK has produced information to help schools develop a sun safe policy, only 621 English primary schools have registered to receive the sun protection policy pack.

Dr Claire Knight, health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “It's important that children are protected from sunburn while at school.”

 

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