Sun protection policies in Miami-Dade County public schools: opportunities for skin cancer prevention

Pediatr Dermatol. 2005 Nov-Dec;22(6):513-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2005.00130.x.


Childhood exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and a history of sunburns are risk factors for skin cancer. Because children spend time outdoors when they are at school, school sun protection policies are an important health issue, particularly in areas of the country with year-round warm and sunny climates, such as Florida. To better understand the sun protection policies and practices in South Florida schools, a sample (n = 51) of elementary and middle schools in Miami-Dade County public schools were surveyed as part of a CDC-funded cancer control program at the University of Miami. Of the principals and teachers surveyed, most (78%) knew about the county school system's guidelines for avoiding excessive heat exposure, which include two sun protection measures. Two-thirds reported that they shared these guidelines with teachers; 21% shared them with parents. Few schools monitor implementation of the guidelines, although 70% schedule outdoor activities to avoid peak sun hours. No schools required sunscreen, hats, or protective clothing. Physical education teachers and students spend an average of 4.5 and 0.6 hours per day outdoors, respectively. Improved school sun protection policies and monitoring of such policies is needed to reduce sun exposure and skin cancer risk for both students and staff.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Health Education / organization & administration
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Policy Making
  • Program Evaluation
  • Protective Clothing
  • Risk Assessment
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Schools
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunlight*
  • Sunscreening Agents / administration & dosage
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Sunscreening Agents