ACT Secondary Schools

ACT Secondary Schools

Sun protection, skin cancer and teens.

Teenagers have sensitive skin, many continue to desire a tan and simply ignore the SunSmart messages which places them at a high risk of developing skin cancer later in life, including melanoma. By adopting sensible precautions now they can minimise their chances of developing skin cancer in the future. In young Australians aged 12-24 years, melanoma is the most common diagnosed cancer, with more than double the number of cases of any kind of other cancer.

Cancer Council ACT encourages ALL secondary schools and colleges to reinforce the importance of skin cancer prevention and awareness. The Council has a number of resources that are available to ACT schools that are committed toward the long term health and wellbeing of their students and staff alike.

2011 ACT Secondary Students' Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD). Released September 2013

The good news is that after decades of campaigning about the dangers associated with tanning, the desire to tan amongst ACT students continues on a steady decline. Basically tanning is not as ‘cool’ as it once was with a significant decrease reported in the number of students reporting a preference for a tan in 2011 compared to a decade ago.

The bad news is that still far too many Canberra students are getting sunburned over the summer period. The recent ASSAD findings suggested that in 2011 roughly 75% of students reported getting sunburnt at least once over the previous summer (the numbers were similar amongst males and females).

When it comes to sun protection amongst ACT adolescents, hat wearing has nose dived since the mid 90s. More recently hat wearing has appeared to plateau out, however numbers remain dangerously low with less than 30% of Canberra teens admitting they wore a hat outside for more than an hour or more on a sunny day in summer (note a ‘hat’ is most likely to be a cap).

In 2011, the most popular sun protection behaviour amongst this cohort appeared to be wearing sunscreen (45%), followed by wearing sunnies (31%) then staying mainly in the shade (31%). In fact wearing sunscreen and seeking shade has steadily increased since the early 2000s. These are areas where ACT secondary schools should be at least investing some thought into! 



At school, less than half of the students felt that there was adequate shade provision, whilst the majority of students (73%) surveyed recalled having received at least part of an education session in class about skin cancer or protection from the sun during the previous year, similar numbers to the 2008 survey.