New Zealand schools not so sun-safe?
Across the playgrounds of New Zealand schools, we’ve been teaching kids to be sun-safe. But are we doing enough? Studies show we could be doing more.
In 2014, Otago University undertook a study involving 211 secondary schools across New Zealand. They wanted to know how ‘sun smart’ our schools were. Here’s the results….
- Only 50% of schools reported having an actual sun protection policy.
- Only 17% actively planned outdoor events to occur earlier or later in the day and made SPF30+ sunscreen available for students.
- Only 8.5% encouraged students to wear sun protective clothing such as collared shirts or long sleeves.
- Only 6.2% had sufficient shade for both active and passive activities to take place on school grounds.
- Only 43.6% ensure all students wear a hat for outdoor activities
The results show we’re falling behind in preventing skin cancer through education. So what can parents do to keep kids sun-safe at schools? We suggest taking a more proactive approach starting with these tips…
Get wide brimmed hats and make them wear them.
While it’s now compulsory in many NZ schools for kids to wear wide brimmed or bucket hats, you could easily see one crumpled in the back seat of the car after drop off. Some schools then make ‘hat-less’ children stay in the shade or inside their classroom (harsh but fair) but if that’s not an option, the onus is on you. Tell your kids it’s not a fashion show and if they don’t wear a hat next time they can look forward to sitting in a hot classroom all day.
Put sunscreen on before they get to school.
Not every child gets to school on a hot day and automatically thinks about slapping on sunscreen. So get it on them before the school bell rings and you’ll have peace of mind that even if their hat’s still in the back of the car, at least they’re covered another way.
Pick them up earlier.
For some parents it’s a godsend not having to be outside school on the dot to pick kids up at the end of the day, especially if traffic is nasty. Just keep in mind that if kids are left running around the top court an extra 30 minutes after school they could easily be getting another 30 minutes exposure.
Let them take some ownership.
Kids aren’t silly. Once they realise how uncomfortable getting burnt at school can be, and how annoyed you’ll become if that happens, it’s quite likely they’ll decide to apply their own sunscreen. A great choice is Invisible Zinc Junior SPF50. It has a handy carabiner-style clip-on for school backpacks, provides broad spectrum UV protection (so it protects against UVA & UVB rays) is low-irritant (because zinc is a natural protective shield) and is 2 hours water resistant.
Invisible Zinc Junior SPF50 is available in pharmacy or click here to Buy Now.