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17th Jun 2022

Parents of children with severe sunburn should be fined for neglect, doctor claims

“You’re inciting harm on that child and you’re damaging their chances of healthy development when they grow up.”

We are all trying our best to protect our skin during the current heatwave. We’ve rummaged through our wardrobes to find our summer clothes, we’ve spent a small fortune on SPF in Boots and we are having ice cream for dinner because it is all we want to eat right now.

Being sun safe is something that is on every parent’s mind during the summertime, but especially when we experience temperatures like we have this week. All anyone is talking about is how great the weather has been.

I’ve never heard so many people say, “Jesus, it’s like Portugal out there” in my life.

As wonderful as the sunny weather is, it does come with risks. Many people are now suffering from sunburn after spending too long in extreme temperatures. Health experts have stressed, time and time again, just how important it is to wear suncream and to regularly top it up throughout the day.

However, some people can be as sun-safe as ever and still experience sunburn.

During an appearance on Good Morning Britain, child safeguarding expert, Dr Sarah Carlick said that parents of children with severe sunburn should be fined for neglect.

Her controversial comments have certainly caused a storm online, but the doctor stressed the dangers of one bad burn.

“I just want to put across [that] one severe blistering sunburn can double a child’s chances of getting melanoma when they grow up into an adult, and under the laws in this country – child protection safeguarding – physical abuse does include burning.”

’I think any pinkness or any sunburn is actually damaging your skin – your skin is the biggest organ on your body. So I think, if you do go out and you’re in the mid-day sun you should have a sun-hat, have SPF and wear protective clothing.”

She continued, “If a child had hot water thrown over them and scalded, it would be investigated as a safeguarding issue, whether that be a non-accidental or accidental injury. So, I’d like to see it to be very specific around sunburn.”

Dr Carlick said that parents should be fined or educated more on the matter, but stressed that it isn’t her job to come up with a way to police these cases.

“I do feel very strongly when it’s severe, and when children are having to go to a GP or to A&E that to me is an issue of physical harm. You’re inciting harm on that child and you’re damaging their chances of healthy development when they grow up,” she added.

Despite her strong stance, others believed that the best thing to do is to educate parents rather than finding them. Sometimes children get a sunburn, no matter how careful their parents are.

Surely arming them with the right information and tools is a better idea rather than shaming them?

The Irish Cancer Society has urged people across the country to be more careful as temperatures remain high this week. They said that most skin cancer cases would be preventable if people had protected their skin properly.

Avoiding the sun between 10 am and 3 pm, regularly applying a broad spectrum suncream, wearing glasses and a hat, and staying hydrated are all things you can do to ensure your skin is protected from harmful UV rays.

Click here for more sun-safety tips.