Ultraviolet radiation (UV)

Protecting Children

Sun protection in schools

Sun protected school kids

Educational programmes in schools to enhance children’s knowledge and modify attitudes and behavior regarding sun protection can significantly decrease adverse health effects and health care costs. Schools are an excellent place to teach healthy behaviors that can prevent overexposure to UV radiation. In an environment that is geared towards learning school children are especially susceptible to fashion trends, while teachers can play a major role in influencing children’s knowledge, attitudes and behavior regarding sun protection.

An effective campaign can have an enormous impact on public health: the SunSmart Campaign (Fig. 2) of The Cancer Council Victoria in Australia, has made significant progress in raising awareness of the issues of sun protection and skin cancer as well as encouraging changes in sun-related lifestyle.

A school program on sun protection should adopt an integrated approach to help students, teachers, and the wider community to avoid health risks of UV radiation exposure. The program should include sun protection education, a healthy school environment, a school-endorsed sun protection policy, and community and family involvement. An evaluation of school programs to promote sun protection is a powerful tool that WHO recommends for implementing and strengthening school health programs. Activities are most effective if they have a practical focus and are relevant to the students’ own experiences. Sun protection can easily be integrated into a range of curriculum areas.

WHO has developed a comprehensive package of materials for children’s sun protection education. It is intended for Ministries of Health and Education, as well as national and local authorities and non-governmental organizations active in the area of health promotion and sun protection programs.