Slip, slop, slap and wrap. We all know the drill. But how seriously do we take it? Do today’s Kiwi Kids think that doing just one of those things is enough to keep them safe from the sun? Even worse, do today’s Kiwi Adults think that?

First of all, we need to cover why this is such an important topic to begin with. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation is the main cause of skin cancer, sunburn, premature ageing, and eye damage. So it is super important to develop good sun protection habits. Show children how to be Sun Smart through role modelling and encourage independent sun protection behaviours. Sun protection is recommended whenever UV levels reach 3 or higher. Because you cannot see or feel UV, you can’t rely on your senses to let you know when you’re in danger. Don’t just wait for hot or sunny days. UV can reach you on cool and cloudy days too.

Evidence suggests that childhood exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation contributes significantly to the development of skin cancer in later life. Students are in school when daily UV radiation levels are at their peak meaning schools are uniquely placed to educate about sun protection behaviour, minimise UVR exposure and ultimately reduce a student’s lifetime risk of skin cancer. Playing sport can also mean long hours spent outdoors training and competing which is why sporting clubs should take steps to make sure players, coaches and staff, and spectators are protected from UV damage.

Parents and carers can be powerful role models too. When parents use sun protection such as hats, shade, sunscreen, and clothing, their children are more likely to use these sun protection methods too. Research shows that healthy habits learned in the younger years are more likely to continue than ones learnt in adulthood. A study also found that teenagers who used sunscreen generally had parents who insisted on sunscreen use when those teenagers were children.

So why is it that we go out in the sun and tan? We lie in the heat and let our bodies burn. We put on sunscreen but nothing else. We wear a hat but let our shoulders burn. We wrap up in long sleeves to protect our back and shoulders, but we sit in the sun and let the sun hit our nose and cheeks. We wear sunglasses but no hat. I know it sounds silly, but when you really think about it we are missing so many of the important steps in keeping ourselves safe from the sun.

Therefore, I would argue we should be aiming to slip, slop, slap and wrap for real. One of the four is not enough. Even two isn’t that good. So come on Kiwi Kids – SLIP on a shirt to protect yourself from the sun, SLOP on some SPF sunscreen, SLAP on a hat and WRAP on some sunglasses!

If you want to be extra amazing, you can go even further by SLIDING into the shade and SLURPING some water. Let’s make sure we are the safest and smartest Kiwi Kids that Aotearoa has ever seen!

Critical Questions:

  1. What does the important of sun safety mean to you?
  2. Do you think you can be safe in the sun without following the Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap guidelines? Do you think we have to do all four?  
  3. What are some risks you can think of if you are not sun smart?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. What is a way you can be sun smart?
  2.  Ask your parents how they made sure you were sun smart as a kid? If you have kids one day, how will you make sure they are sun smart?
  3. Think about a time this summer you were sun smart and a time you weren’t? Why did you make these decisions and what will you do differently next time?  

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