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.