Should Schools Ban Sunscreen?

We all know how important it is to wear sunscreen, especially during the summer. Children are particularly vulnerable; it only takes one blistering sunburn to potentially double your kid's lifetime risk of melanoma.

So I was shocked to hear about the North East Independent School District in Texas banning sunscreen from 72 schools. Local mom Christy Riggs is protesting the policy after her daughter suffered a bad burn from a field trip. The students were out in the sun for more than six hours, but the school district argues that sunscreen can cause allergic reactions, so it must be treated like a medicine--which means only kids with a doctor's note are allowed to use it at school.

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I understand the good intentions behind this decision. Allergies are a hot issue right now, and if students were to share sunscreen, it's possible that a few might end up with reactions. But the risks of all the students suffering from severe burns while being out in the sun without protection are far higher. Applying the lotion before school is not enough, as it will wear off after a few hours. It seems absurd to focus on healthier school lunches and increasing kids' physical activity, but then put children in jeopardy of serious damage from the sun's rays.

Surely, there's a safer, healthier way to handle this situation. Many schools simply ask for parental consent to apply sunscreen to kids. Others provide a specific sunscreen and let families send in their own if they want a different kind. I hope the school district reexamines their policy at the end of the year and comes up with a better method. Until then, San Antonio parents will need to apply sunscreen generously in the mornings, and dress their children in proper clothes to protect bare skin outdoors.

Do you support the sunscreen ban?

Image: Girl anoints her face via Shutterstock

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