Sunburned Kids Have Parents Angry Over School Policy
TACOMA, Wash. — Parents across the nation are expressing their outrage after a Tacoma school district denied two young girls from using sunscreen, causing the fair-skinned children to get severely sunburned.
Violet Michener, 11, and her sister Zoe, 9, were at an all-day school event last week on a day that started cloudy but soon cleared to bright sunshine. The school refused to allow the girls to put on sunscreen, despite the fact that Zoe Michener suffers from a form of albinism, a condition that makes her sensitive to the sun.
“I was feeling all hot,” Zoe Michener told NBC’s TODAY Show. “I noticed that my shoulders were really more warmer than other parts of my body.”
According to the girl’s mother, Jesse Michener, the school district told her that state law forbids school staff from applying sunscreen to students, and that students need a note from a doctor if they want to apply it themselves.
Similar laws are in effect in 49 states – only California allows sunscreen in schools without a doctor’s permission. According to some officials, the laws are in place because some children may be allergic to some ingredients in sunscreens, which are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an over-the-counter medication.
“Having a sunburn in childhood dramatically increases your risk of skin cancer later in life,” dermatologist Doris Day told ABC News. She says that even though sunscreen allergies are very rare, they do not justify a ban.
“I can’t see any justification for any school to tell a child that they are not allowed to apply sunscreen,” said Day.
Michener says that her daughters came home from school red and swollen from the sun.
“It was absolutely painful and gut-wrenching to look at. I was horrified,” Michener told the TODAY Show. She says that the burns were so severe that she took her children to a local hospital for examination.
The district says that they have apologized for the incident, and the state has passed a new law allowing districts more leeway for making policy when it comes to sunscreen at school.