360 kids who were around 10 years old between 2004 and 2007 [were] surveyed…about whether they ever had sunburns, how much time they spent in the sun and how often they wore sunscreen. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that more than half the children reported having at least one sunburn the previous summer, and that number was about the same when the children were questioned three years later.
This is clearly a problem, because as we know, sunburns place you at risk for melanoma and other skin cancers. The other issue lies in the fact that good behaviors are generally reinforced in childhood, and if children are not using sunscreen now, they will likely not use it as adults either. By teaching young children the importance of sunscreen and having them use the product, it will naturally become part of their routines. What the study also showed is that while 50% of the children said they used sunscreen at the beginning of the study, three years later only 25% of them still used it.
Stephen Duza, who led the study, pointed out that, “when you ask kids or teens about tanning, they say people look better with a tan, and tanning has a very positive association in kids of this age, so trying to get them to limit this behavior is a difficult message to get across”. Kids and teens need to see the danger in tanning, and not simply associate it with attractiveness.
Here at MoleSafe, we want to spread the importance of sun safe practices. Targeting children is most definitely one of the important steps in spreading melanoma awareness. This study is important in that it shows how much work we have yet to do. Hopefully soon we will be able to get all children to regularly wear sunscreen and understand its importance.
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