Source: The Mercury, 25 January, 1998, p.7


Call for shock tactics
to get message through

By LIBBY SUTHERLAND

   SOAKING up the rays at the 
Hobart Aquatic Centre, this 
group of Tasmanian teenagers 
seems decidedly blase about 
the risk of skin cancer.

   Most do not even wear 
sunscreen, let alone a 
broad- brimmed hat.

   Jackie Bellette, 15, of 
Dodges Ferry said she 
sometimes coverer up in 
the sun but did not wear 
sunscreen.

   "I just never put it on," 
she said.

   Natasha Banks, 17, of 
Moonah, said she did wear 
"normal" sunblock and did 
burn but was not concerned 
about the risks. Friend Jiah 
Cordell-Clair, 17, of 
Moonah told a similar 
story.

   "A couple of weeks ago I 
went to the beach and I 
didn't put any sunscreen 
on," she said.

   "I spent three hours in the 
sun, got burnt and started to 
peel.

   "I have gone brown now 
which is good."

   Ian Oates, 14, of Bagdad said 
he had been out in the sun 
every day and although he 
wore a baseball cap, he did 
not bother with suncreen.

   Adam Burns, 16, of 
Queenstown, also ventures 
out unprotected.

   Fair-skinned Hamish 
McLaren, 12, of Moonah, 
opts for sunscreen and a 
baseball cap.

   "I have been burnt a couple of 
times but I don't worry about 
skin cancer," he said.

   Sandy Bay GP and state 
cancer council board 
member Rob Walters said 
he believed a shock 
campaign was needed to 
alert teenagers to the risk 
of excessive exposure to 
the sun.

   The teenage years were the 
years of believing nothing 
bad could happen to them- 
even though they knew the 
facts.

   "The survey shows the 
message is getting through 
but there is the age-old 
problem of how do we 
actually change their 
behaviour rather than just 
presenting the effects," Dr 
Walters said.

   "The interest in fashion tends 
to override health concerns. 
It is very difficult to force 
teenagers to take any 
preventative health measures.

   "I think the only way really 
to do it is to shock, to 
show that young people do 
get melanoma and do die 
from melanoma."

   Another tactic would be to 
appeal to teenagers' cosmetic 
conscience.

   "There is no doubt with 
women who tan themselves 
regularly that their skin 
ages a lot quicker and they 
look old before their time," 
Dr Walters said. "We need 
to look at our technique [in 
getting the message out] 
and make some changes."


See also: Teen skin cancer alarm

 




Where to next?

Student Questions for this article
Teacher Discussion of this article
Index - Related articles
Index - Data Collection and Sampling
Main Index - Numeracy in the News