Author(s): Horsley L, Charlton A, Waterman C
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Abstract In a random sample of schools distributed throughout all areas of England, 2703 primary school pupils from 46 schools and 2692 secondary school pupils from 32 schools were surveyed regarding behaviour in the sun, and opinions and experience of sunburn. Seventy percent (1879) of primary and 36.5\% (982) of secondary pupils recalled hearing about protecting themselves from the sun at school. Primary school pupils who recalled they were told to 'stay in the shade' were more likely say they did so; 27.3\% (739) of primary and 20.7\% (556) of secondary school pupils reported getting sunburnt; and 53.2\% (393/739) primary school pupils and 52.5\% (292/556) secondary school pupils reporting sunburn said their sunburn peeled. The most common time both primary and secondary pupils said they got sunburnt at school was at lunchtime (mid-day break); the next most common time was during sports day. Pupils saying they did not protect their skin because they wanted a tan were more likely to report sunburn (41.7\% primary and 29.5\% secondary) than those giving other reasons. Primary school pupils who said they used sun screen frequently (285/847) were more likely than 'never users' (178/813) to report sunburn, as were secondary school pupils (53/192 and 264/1565 for frequent and 'never users', respectively). Dark- and light-skinned pupils at primary school (27.3 and 27.4\%, respectively) were equally likely to say they had been sunburnt. At secondary school, only 10.6\% of dark-skinned compared with 22.3\% of light-skinned pupils reported sunburn. The last two findings might be related to cultural behaviours and are discussed later. Pupils of all ages need encouragement to protect their skin at mid-day break, to use sunscreens correctly and be aware of alternative sun-protection methods. Education is needed which challenges the notion that a 'tan is beautiful' and uses social teaching methods to empower pupils to carry out sun protection in real life.
This article was published in Health Educ Res
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals