FURIOUS parents are claiming that schools are banning teachers from dabbing life-saving sun cream on pupils as they might be accused of child abuse.
Concerned mums and dads are flocking to sign a petition launched by parent Leigh O'Connor to change the rules and make it a legal duty of care to prevent children being put at risk of an early death from skin cancer.
Despite the expected scorching weather and the increasing rates of skin cancer, the National Union of Teachers advises staff to not put sun cream on pupils "due to the potential for allegations of abuse" and the time it would take.
Leigh, from Caerphilly, said his son's school does not allow pupils to bring in cream to apply themselves due to allergy worries, and his boy has 'over-heated' and other children have burnt.
He said: "It started up recently with the hot weather. It seems to be that every school has a different policy.
"My son's school doesn't allow it. It's a bit of a nightmare, really.
"I have had quite a lot of feedback from other parents – one mum told me there were three incidents where her child burned before the school changed policy"
The petition is set to go to the National Assembly for Wales demanding a change in the rules.
It says: "All children are at risk when in school or on school trips of sun burn.
"This not only has short term health issues but also long term such as skin cancer.
"This could easily be avoidable by allowing schools to apply sun cream with parents' consent.
"There are many options for this that do not involve the teachers having to touch the children if this is an issue."
A BURNING ISSUE
Caitlin Sandford, 24, from Aberystwyth, has psoriasis on her hands, a skin condition which means she cannot apply sun cream to her little boy Samuel, who came home from school sunburn.
"I took some into school but the teachers said they could not apply it and my son would have to apply it himself.
"Apparently he didn't even have help since he came back with sunburn on the back of his neck" she said.
"I understand being worried about allergies but if you provided the sun cream and your child has trouble putting it on, a teacher should help.
"Especially considering sun cream probably won't be very effective at lunch break if it was applied at 8.30 in the morning."
But David Evans, Wales Secretary for the National Union of Teachers, said if schools allow teachers to apply sun cream, parental consent should be obtained and staff who wish to do so should only apply it to the face, neck and arms.
He said: "Each school should have a policy on the administration of sunscreen, which encourages parents and carers to provide children with their own, as well as encouraging them to provide children with suitable long-sleeved clothing and wide-brimmed hats.
"Our members can apply sunscreen in certain circumstances, but this will be with written permission from parents and a suitable risk assessment carried out. Children can have allergies or intolerances to certain products, which we would be keen to avoid."
FACTS ABOUT MELANOMA SKIN CANCER
Sunburn is skin damage and is your body's attempt to repair it – in the short term.
Sunburn is a clear sign that the DNA in your skin cells have been damaged by too much UV radiation.
In the long term, damage to DNA causes skin cancer, called melanoma.
Reducing the risk of sunburn by protecting your skin with suncream and staying in the shade will reduce the risk of skin cancer.
In the last decade, skin cancer rates have increased by almost half in the UK.
According to the NHS, there are about 13,500 cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year.
In 2016, 2,285 people died from melanoma skin cancer in the UK alone.
Skin cancer, however, is 86 per cent preventable – meaning you can take precautions to reduce the risk.
Forecasters have predicted that the 27C heat later this week could spark a three-month heatwave lasting until October, which will put more people at risk of sun burns and skin cancer.
Experts say rates of skin cancer are increasing faster than any other cancer in the UK, and not allowing pupils to apply sun cream at school could increase their risk of skin cancer.
In July 2018 a Devon dad slammed his daughter's school after they banned children as young as five from applying sun cream despite the record-breaking heatwave.
Hyde Park Infant School in Plymouth sent a newsletter to parents letting them know pupils were not allowed to bring sun cream into school.
Instead they were advised to use 'once a day' lotion on their children despite Cancer Research UK urging people to re-apply cream more regularly.
Mark Jones, a father of pupils in the school, claimed his eldest daughter Poppy, seven, was told to put away her sun cream when she got it out at lunchtime at school.
He said the 'ridiculous and bonkers' ruling put children at risk of sunburn.
The school said the ban was due to 'concerns over the chemicals in sun cream and its storage'.
Our members can apply sunscreen in certain circumstances, but this will be with written permission from parents and a suitable risk assessment carried out
But Mark, who also has a younger daughter, said "It's absolutely bonkers that the girls can't take sun cream into school.
"Lots of sun creams rub off easily on to the kids' uniforms which means when they go out at lunch time they are no longer protected.
"These 'once-a-day' creams haven't been proven to work and even the Cancer Research UK website says that cream must be re-applied regularly in order to maintain adequate protection."
Taking his concern to the board of governors, Mark claims he was later informed the reason the sun cram wasn't allowed in school was due to storage space.
Skin cancer rates are doubling every 10 to 20 years, and more people – especially youngsters – now die of it in Britain than in Australia.
Getting sunburn just once every two years, can triple your chances of getting melanoma skin cancer.
The charity Tenovus Cancer Care says one blistering sun burn as a child can double the risk of melanoma, skin cancer, in later life.
A spokesperson from Tenovus said that skin cancer is now the most common cancer affecting young adults aged 15-34 in the UK.
A council spokesperson from Flintshire, Wales, said "Schools will usually work on the basis that if a child brings in sun cream, it is for them to apply themselves and not a member of staff."
But parents say one application of sun cream before school is not enough and children are getting sunburn as a result.
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According to the NHS, about 13,500 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year among people of all ages.
Maura Matthews, from Tenovus Cancer Care, said: "We know that skin cancer is the most preventable of all cancers – some 86 per cent of cases are preventable."
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