Monday, July 20, 2009

I've finally made it!!!

Well, I've been criticised by someone in the local newspaper. Does anyone know Cathy Start? I'd like to buy her a drink, and then point out to her why her parochial views are so wrong.

However, I've gotten my dander up again. I don't know if they will print it but here is my response.

Regarding the issue of the sunscreen ban at RA Butler schools…it was my intention to wait for the governor’s response to my submission. However, by addressing me personally in her letter, Cathy Start, (Reporter, July 16), forces me into the position of responding.

With her assertation that there are not enough hot days during the summer term to make a fuss about sunscreen, she shows that she belongs to the dangerously ignorant. Over the last thirty years, the incidence of malignant melanoma has increased more than for any other common cancer in the UK. Surveys in the UK have revealed that the majority of people regard a sun tan as a sign of health and few are knowledgeable about the dangers of UVR (Cancer Research UK). Behavioural change is needed, particularly with regard to protecting children from over-exposure to sunlight as children are at the highest risk during the first 15 years and skin cancers take decades to manifest themselves.

It is a shame that Ms Start was not a teacher at one of the many schools which competently manage their sun smart policies and has allowed this to colour her judgement. If she had bothered to read any of the articles in which I was quoted, she would be aware that I am not asking that teachers apply sunscreen to children, therefore her arguments about applying ‘greasy creams onto hot, sticky skins’ is a farce and a smokescreen to hide the actual argument. If a parent wishes their child to bring sunscreen in to school and reapply it themselves, they should be allowed to do so.
My daughter is about to go to high school, perhaps I should be flattered that Ms Start seems to think that my daughters are unusually independent. Good grief, if children can’t apply sunscreen by the time they get to high school, how will they cope with the challenges of secondary school!
I take exception to Ms Start’s advice that I should use twelve hour sunscreen. My youngest daughter is sensitive to some sunscreen products and I have a product which I use to which she does not have a reaction. Neither the school, nor Ms Start have the right to dictate what skin care product I should use. This again is an attempt to cover up how ridiculous the ban is. What happens on school camps…are parents to drive down each day to apply sunscreen, or is the danger of 'cross-contamination' less there? What happens if the parent forgets to put sunscreen on in the morning; why can’t the child have it in their bag?

Finally Ms Start calls upon me to applaud what the school is doing to educate my children. Again, she is ill informed. I have written to both the staff of RA Butler and the Governors to state that I regret being forced into the position of making the issue so public, that I value the education my children have received and that I look forward to working with them to develop a new policy. Come on Cathy, find out the facts next time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sunscreen Campaign at RA Butler School...

Thanks again to all those people who have told me that they fully support my campaign. And I do appreciate the point that many are afraid to publicly voice their view as they are worried that the school could make life difficult for themselves or their children.

However, if you are wondering what you can do to make a difference, here is a list of the school governors. You can send a letter directly to the school.

I'll be sending mine tomorrow!

And a comment from a primary teacher on my facebook page.

' don't they teach them to handle dangerous objects such as scissors and staplers....and of all things sunscreen carefully!!!!!'

The Mad Sunscreen Woman of SW

Monday, July 6, 2009

School bans sunscreen as temperatures soar

Ludicrous isn't a world where climate change means that we will be suffering colder winters and hotter summers that a school would ban children from bringing in sunscreen.

When I began my blog about 18 months ago, I thought it would be about writing but decided I probably didn't have much to say that would be particularly interesting.

But now I am motivated to join that world of bloggers to put my view across.

For a quick summary of what I've been up to see below.

It all began when my daughters came home from a school sports day badly sunburnt. I asked the classroom teacher to remind my youngest daughter to reapply her sunscreen at lunchtime and asked if it was okay if the older daughter came in to put some on at lunchtime too. All fine and dandy.

Until the following week, my youngest daughter came home and informed me that they had been told in an assembly that they were no longer allowed to bring sunscreen in to school because some children might be allergic to it. I thought perhaps she was confused, that perhaps it needed to be kept in a cupboard...but no. When I queried the classroom teacher, she told me that the staff had had a meeting about it last week and that was what had been decided.

I then decided to follow up with the head teacher, to no avail. She was in no way prepared to listen so I felt I had no option but to take the matter further.

My position is that I wish my daughter to be able to bring sunscreen in to school and reapply it at lunchtime if necessary. The three other primary schools in our town all actively encourage this. Given the increasing risk of skin cancer and sun damage and the fact that the most damage is done in the first 15 years of life, I would think that the sense of this would be self evident.

The school's position is that there is a danger of children sharing sunscreen and some children might be allergic to some of the ingredients. Now we are not talking peanut allergies and anaphalactic shock here, otherwise the school should ban sunscreen altogether as most children would have it on their skin. What we are talking about is a skin allergy, some spots, perhaps a rash. My daughter is 9 and is herself allergic to some sunscreens. She knows only to use her own, just as she knows she can't have her face painted because her skin reacts. One of her best friends is wheat intollerant. This girl knows that she shouldn't share lunches because it is bad for her. The school hasn't banned sandwiches though!

Shouldn't we be educating our children not to share medicines and that sunscreen is like that? My daughter has an asthma inhaler and she doesn't share that. In fact she is allowed to self administer that.....The common sense approach would seem to be that if the school is so worried about children sharing sunscreen they should simply put it in the cupboard with other medications in the class. But no, that was too difficult for the school. I suggested that I would be happy to get a letter from my gp to say that my daughter needed sunscreen to be reapplied.

This was fine, but I would have to come to the school at 12 o'clock to reapply the sunscreen. Again, a ridiculous suggestion. Not all mother's have the luxury of being able to come down to the school during the day.

The school has also suggested cross contamination is a concern. I would really like someone to explain this to me. Does this mean they might get swine flu from touching someone's sunscreen bottle?....I'm really confused here.

In addition, the school has said that teachers don't have time to apply sunscreen to children. In this they have totally misrepresented what I am asking. Don't put it on them! Let them put it on themselves! My daughters have been doing this since they were four years old. Isn't it more important that they develop an understanding and awareness of the need to be careful in the sun?

All my Australian friends are laughing. They cannot believe that such a ridiculous rule exists. Even worse that the school governors support this stance and are putting the health and well being of children at risk.

I've provided six hour sunscreen for my daughters. The label says...up to six hours. So in hot and sweaty classroooms, with children running around, the most I can hope for is that it lasts till 2pm. What about after school sport, what about walking home? What about the fact that I should be able to choose the appropriate sun care for my child?

So what should I do??? I'm giving up on the media interviews for now, I've made my point. But there are more than one way to skin a cat. And this cat certainly didn't like having it explained to her by the school head that 'in our culture, we don't .....' I live in the UK, I pay taxes, I was born what point am I not part of the culture???

I'd love to hear what other people think. It's lovely for people to ring me up to say they support my stance, for strangers to say 'well done' in the street but I'd really love to get the message across and that means showing that public and local opinion is on my side. And for anyone else whose school has a similar policy....Come on, time to demand a change.

And to those many parents at the same school who still put sunscreen in their children's bags...what kind of message do we send our children about rules...that they are optional?? If there is a silly rule, let's change it. Don't just ignore it.

Oh well, back off my soapbox, I'll probably be back in another year or so. I'm just yesterday's news. Such a shame my children's books never warranted nationwide tv coverage!!!!