Here Comes the Sun
There was talk in the media recently about a proposal to prosecute parents who allowed children to become sunburnt.
Families taking children to doctors’ surgeries or A and E departments for reasons relating to sun exposure were supposedly going to face comprehensive questioning and possible court action for neglect or child cruelty.
This suggestion sounds rather extreme, and it is not clear how it would be taken forward, but at the same time it is important to recognise that sunburn is a serious issue.
In this country it is tempting to rush to the beach or open-air pool as soon as we get a hot spell because, as we all know, the Great British Weather can quickly return to its normal grey and gloomy profile!
This is partly why the sun proves such a potential danger to our children, as they do not get the regular exposure they need to build up tolerance to UV rays, so when they do see the sun they can’t wait to get out, and to stay out, in it for as long as possible!
Rather than prosecuting parents for neglecting to take precautions with their children’s delicate skin, as with most subjects, it is surely more sensible to educate than to punish.
To look at the vast shelves of products in most large chemists and supermarkets it is hard to understand why any adult would not understand the importance of sun protection. Things have certainly moved on since the 1960’s and 70’s when products were much less sophisticated and just about the highest available SPF was 25 rather than 50, and everyone seemed to crave the full sun-baked look and not the lightly tanned glow that is much more acceptable today.
In those days parents would perhaps dab a little Ambre Solaire on their kiddies first thing in the morning and then wave goodbye to them for the day, as they explored the countryside or wandered around the holiday resort with their friends and siblings for hours on end. There was not a noticeable amount of helicopter-parenting back then and youngsters would often return with bright red faces, legs, and arms. This often resulted in being slathered with the dreaded pink calamine lotion to soothe everything down and having to cover up for the rest of the holiday!
The lack of a sunhat too could mean that the awful discomfort of the sunburn was accompanied by a bad headache, and what was probably a case of sunstroke. Not a pleasant way for a child to end a happy day of play!
You would expect that these experiences would have been a lasting deterrent, but back in those days, once a child reached their teens or early twenties their sole objective during the brief summer months would be to baste themselves with one of the sticky, oil-based sun products that invariably had an intensely tropical coconut scent, and practically fry themselves to achieve the mahogany tan that everyone craved!
Thankfully those days have gone, and we have all grown out of that desperate sun-worshipping mind-set. We are all aware of the short-term risks of over-exposure to the sun, but also of the potential danger of going on to develop melanoma or skin-cancer.
Choose your sun-protection carefully, especially for the younger members of the family, and with more heatwaves predicted, everyone should be able to enjoy the summer without suffering!
And don’t forget, if the children are going to summer camp or friends’ swimming parties, it's best to label their sandals, t- shirts, sunhats, water bottles and sun-products - even their buckets and spades! This will avoid any hot-headed confusion when everything inevitably gets thrown into one enormous heap at some point during all the fun. Labelling is not just-for school uniform!