SunSmart is encouraging Victorian secondary school students to continue the hat wearing habits established in their primary school years.
While many secondary schools provide the option of a hat for students, the practice has yet to become as common as in primary schools.
Data from the Cancer Council Australia’s National Sun Protection Survey shows that hat use is not widespread among young people (aged 12–17), with just 23% protecting themselves with a hat over the summer of 2010–11.
SunSmart Youth and Advocacy Co-ordinator Jane Hill said sun protection is just as important for secondary students as it is for primary school students, as school hours fall within the middle of the day when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) levels peak.
"Adolescent skin doesn’t become any more resistant to UV damage during the transition from Grade 6 to Year 7, so it’s crucial to keep wearing a hat throughout secondary school," Ms Hill said.
"Making hats part of all school routines – no matter the year level – is the next step in ensuring we help support a truly SunSmart generation."
She said a broad-brimmed hat would help to protect student’s young, delicate skin on their face, ears and neck from UV damage.
Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians aged 13–24, accounting for more than 25% of cancer cases, and the highest incidence of melanoma anywhere in the world among this age group.
"A sunburn or tan may fade, but your skin remembers. All your UV damage adds up, increasing the risk of skin cancer," Ms Hill said.
"The good news is that skin cancer is preventable, which is why the sun protection habits learnt in primary school, need to continue through the secondary school years and beyond."
To prepare for a SunSmart school year, students and parents can also:
- Replace any uniform items that have become stretched and worn-out to ensure fabric is offering good protection.
- Take a sunscreen to slop on before breaks or outdoor classes that is SPF30 or higher, broad-spectrum and water-resistant
- Find some school sunglasses that are marked category 2, 3, or 4 for good protection. The category is more important than the price.
For more information visit sunsmart.com.au