Burn Baby Burn: School Children Denied Sunscreen Without Parental Consent While School Officials Oppose Parental Notice Of Police Interrogations Of Children

We have followed ludicrous examples of the bureaucratic rules in schools with regard to the denial of aspirin or inhalers to students. Now it appears that school officials across the country are allowing students to develop serious sun burns because they consider sun block to be a drug requiring parental permission. It sounds like something straight out of The Onion but it is true. In the meantime, school officials in the Washington area have successfully blocked a measure to require parental notification of police interrogations of their children, even in cases of serious alleged misconduct.


In New York and Washington, children have suffered extreme sunburns — including burns requiring hospital care — because school officials refused to allow the use of sun block without signed parental consent.

In some districts, school policy only allows for sunscreen to be applied with a signed doctor’s note because it is viewed as a medication. The reason is that some children could have an allergic reaction. California is the only state that allows sunscreen without permission from a doctor.

Yet, when it comes to protecting the rights of children, principals joined together in Fairfax County to block a measure calling for parental notice of police interrogations. Forty-seven Fairfax middle and high school principals testified that the proposals requiring parental notice or consent shows “a lack of trust and confidence.” They further objected to the harm it would cause to their administrative and security concerns. Police often interrogate children at schools where they are pulled from their classes and isolated in a room with school officials and police officers. It is a highly coercive environment where children are not given the most basic protections afforded to adults.

The decision by Fairfax (where my children go to public school) comes after well-documented abuses involving the interrogation of children at schools. It also came after the Supreme Court rebuked police in J.D.B. v. North Carolina (Case No. 09-11121) this month — holding 5-4 that a child’s age can be a relevant factor when determining whether a juvenile suspect merits a Miranda warning about his rights against self-incrimination. That case involved a North Carolina student who was 13 years old in 2005 when he was interrogated at school concerning a series of thefts in the neighborhood. School officials were willing participants in the interrogation.

So, schools officials require signed parental consent for an aspirin or sun block but refuse to even given parental notice of police interrogations. A rather curious set of priorities if the best interests of the child is the standard.

Source: NBC and WGRZ

34 thoughts on “Burn Baby Burn: School Children Denied Sunscreen Without Parental Consent While School Officials Oppose Parental Notice Of Police Interrogations Of Children

  1. ” California is the only state that allows sunscreen without permission from a doctor.”

    I am not sure what you are speaking about, but in Arizona, sunscreen is recommended by almost everyone. Kids are taught early, it’s Arizona and Australia for skin cancer, use sunscreen.

    http://susd.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/394763/File/Student%20Services/Procedures.Guidelines%20-%20weather%20and%20activities.pdf

    SCOTTSDALE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
    MODIFICATION OF SCHOOL-RELATED ACTIVITIES
    DUE TO WEATHER OR ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS

    II. Sun/UV Protection
    RATIONALE
    Too much sun can be dangerous. Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays
    seriously threatens human health. Besides the immediate effect of sunburn, over
    time excess UV radiation can cause skin cancer, eye damage, immune system
    suppression, and premature aging. Children are highly susceptible to harmful UV
    radiation. In Arizona the number of melanoma cases has risen 55 percent since
    1997. It is estimated that sixty to eighty percent of a person’s lifetime sun
    exposure occurs before the age of 18. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood
    more than doubles the risk of skin cancer later in life. Skin cancer and other UVrelated adverse health effects are largely preventable if sun protection practices
    are followed early and consistently.
    POLICY
    The following precautions will be taken for all outdoor physical activity including,
    but not limited to: recess, physical education classes, field trips, and outdoor fine
    art and athletic practices and competitions.
    The UV Index, which was developed by the National Weather Service and the
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), provides a daily forecast of the
    expected risk of overexposure to the sun. The Index predicts UV intensity levels
    on a scale of 1 to 11+, where low indicates a minimal risk of overexposure and
    11+ means an extreme risk.
    Each school day the Principal or designee will assess the anticipated Ultraviolet
    Index (UVI) for the day and email or announce an activity advisory to all
    applicable staff. Any coaches or other applicable staff without district email must
    check at the school office prior to starting outdoor activities. See UV Index
    guidelines below.
    Guidelines for determining UV Index
    Local UV Index can be obtained from http://www.epa.gov/ sunwise/uvindex.html.
    After entering the school zip code the UVI for that area will be shown. Limit
    activities according to chart below

    UV
    INDEX
    EXPOSURE
    CATEGORY ACTIVITY LIMITATIONS
    <2 Low No limitations
    Encourage wearing sunglasses on bright days.
    3 to 5 Moderate Encourage sunglasses, hats and using sunscreen SPF 15+
    while outside.
    Stay in shade near midday when the sun is strongest.
    6 to 7 High Protection against sunburn is needed.
    Reduce time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
    Cover up, wear a hat and sunglasses, and use sunscreen
    SPF 15+.Page 6 of 9
    8 to 10 Very High Take extra precautions. Unprotected skin will be damaged
    and can burn quickly. Try to avoid the sun between 11 a.m.
    and 4 p.m. Otherwise, seek shade, cover up, wear a hat
    and sunglasses, and use sunscreen SPF 15+.
    11+ Extreme Unprotected skin can burn in minutes. Non-essential
    outdoor activities should be limited. For essential outdoor
    activities: seek shade, cover up, wear hat and sunglasses,
    and use sunscreen SPF 15+.
    EDUCATION AND PREVENTION
    Teaching children about sun safety is the key to reducing the risk of future health
    problems. Age-appropriate prevention education regarding heat and sun related
    illnesses shall be made available for students, staff and parents.
    SunWise is a nation-wide environmental and health education program for
    grades K – 8 developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The
    program teaches students in these grades how to protect themselves from
    overexposure to the sun through the use of classroom-based, school-based, and
    community-based components. SunWise is available to all SUSD elementary
    and middle schools in collaboration with Scottsdale Healthcare community
    education. Effective August 2005, SB 1297 makes SunWise a requirement for
    grades K – 8.
    High school teachers and coaches are encouraged to integrate heat illness, sun
    safety and skin cancer prevention education components into their curricula

  2. Arizona certainly doesn’t require doctor’s permission for sunscreen.

    For umbrellas, rain hats, rain coats, galoshes and other crazy body modifications certainly, but not for sunscreen.

  3. What I read about this (on the MSNBC site, iirc) gave me the impression that by state statute 49 of our 50 states prohibit students in public schools from carrying and applying sunscreen, unless a physician supplies a note.

  4. Not to ignore the rest of your post about interrogations, it is 1) Terribly crazy the idiot policies that zero tolerance lawyers have brought us, 2) Interesting to note above that Sunscreen and sun protection is a Federal, EPA program for K-8 that Washington and NY are CRIMINALLY ignorant of, and 3) what local ignorance does to empower idiots, lawyers, and administrators to abuse our kids (and our adults as well.)

    SunWise is a nation-wide environmental and health education program for
    grades K – 8 developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  5. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:3OxJt4wzFtkJ:susd.laguna.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/394752/File/NEW%2520FAMILY%2520HANDBOOK%252010-11.doc%3Fsessionid%3D494+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgsM9OGB0O07QTvDtZGCo_CQuZV5ZjCwoU8G08STmpTzF6DRsKaomdl20xQlxB49Esv_nEIvlnbFkw0Srm1wg1t_r9bWDyJe4_bY89gkQCONlKKmcWYJ9ZwoHDXqzkwa7Zh8qAM&sig=AHIEtbRAkI__IpvhCkT7TfoDzwiLmPgqTg

    LAGUNA ELEMENTARY
    FAMILY HANDBOOK
    2010 – 2011

    10475 E. LAKEVIEW DRIVE
    SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA 85258

    DRESS CODE
    The Personal Appearance and Dress Code Policy of the Scottsdale Unified School District No. 48 places
    responsibility on the parents and students for personal appearance and dress that meets reasonable safety, health,
    and decency standards, and standards of decorum so as not to cause a disturbance in the educational process.
    Guidelines:
    1. The hair of all students, including facial hair, shall be clean and a natural color. No unnatural hair
    color will be allowed.
    2. Shoes with securing straps or ties shall be worn at all times. NOTE: NO flip-flops or shoes with
    heals are allowed.
    3. Slacks or appropriate shorts may be worn throughout the year. Shorts should be long enough to
    reach the mid-thigh
    a. Intentionally ragged or dirty clothing is inappropriate.
    b. Inappropriate lettering or designs will not be permitted on clothing. (Examples include:
    profanity, alcoholic beverages, gang related clothing.)
    c. Hats are not to be worn indoors, since they block the view of other students.
    d. Current fashions are permitted as long as decency is maintained in any posture. However, bare
    midriff, spaghetti strap halter-top outfits and/or gang style clothing (sagging/long belts/chains,
    etc.) are not allowed. Shoulder straps should be a minimum of 1”. Clothing will be worn as it is
    designed (no rolling shorts or shirts, tying at waist, e.g.)
    e. No makeup will be worn by students. Sunscreen and lip balm is encouraged.

    HEAT ACCOMMODATION PLAN
    The following guidelines are established:
    * Physical Education classes are held indoors whenever weather temperature reaches excessive levels or the heat
    index become dangerously high as determined by the weather heat index report.
    * Running activities outdoors are restricted whenever temperatures exceed 100 degrees.
    * Students are encouraged to bring and use water bottles at any time during the school year. Proper care and use of
    these items is required.
    * Hats are not allowed to be worn in the classrooms, but are encouraged along with UV sunglasses for sun glare
    protection on the playground and for wearing while going to and from school.
    *Specific health instruction, such as the effects of the sun on the human body, is an ongoing emphasis in each
    classroom utilizing the classroom teacher’s expertise and the guidance of the school nurse.
    * Students should apply sunscreen before school and reapply at lunchtime.
    * Two solid covered ramadas and awning shade structures are available to use for protection from the sun. Several

  6. It’s called an Irish tan in some regions, or local bars. I had many as a youth. So far I am fortunate, but I have discovered after 3 trips to a dermatologist my co-pays are 50 bucks. He suggests 2 visits a year. My 4th visit is in 5 months. …..I may invest in sunscreen stock, it’s to late for me to become a Doctor of the Derm.
    We have more knowledge of many things these days, and sadly it seems we have less common sense.

  7. How about educating the children first?

    When I was in grade school, probably around 1974, nearly every boy in the school carried a pocket knife. I remember whittling a dry twig with the knife while talking with my teacher during recess. In 2nd grade we had an unthinkable event, a Christmas Party. My Mom and I went down to a toy store and I bought a very nice looking old west style cap gun, one that resembed a Colt revolver, and a box or two of caps. Back in school, we drew numbers for the gifts and a boy named Jim won my present. He opened the wrapper and he was completely joyed with his new toy. He kept saying “All right!, All right!” while he held it up to every other boy’s envy. A cap gun that looked like a real one.

    We also engaged in some rather pitched snowball fights with each other. We were also told that if we got lost or needed help to just go up to a house and knock on the door. The adult there could help us out. We used to climb trees in the schoolgrounds. We also one year had to line up in the gym and all get some kind of vaccination involving an air powered injector (I stil have the mark on my shoulder) School patrol was staffed entirely by 5th graders without any supervision. Many of us rode our bikes to school or took the bus. We had metal lunchboxes at first, but I later got a plastic one that had the theme S.W.A.T. like the TV show. In 5th grade, our teacher instructed us on mining and mineral prospecting. We made a paper mache mountain range and we were to prospect for uranium there. The teacher had hidden small mildly radioactive ore samples inside and we used old Civil Defense geiger-counters to find them.

    The only time I saw the LEOs in the school was when Sheriff Williams came by to talk with our class one time.

    Somehow, despite all these horrors, we still managed to be children and enjoy life.

  8. NO child should be subject to interrogation by police, óther than by prior notice to the parent/equivalent at least 2 weeks in advance and stating the issues to be discussed.

    Miranda rights shall be given in enlarged text.

    An independent advisory enterprise, entrusted with the duty, shall be noted with telephone and email address where additional information or advice of adversarial art shall be available. The enterprize will enjoy its duty as long as it is not impeached for xx grounds by the yy government body.

    The right of the parent to speak in response to questions instead of the child shall not be abrogated.

    Pro bono help shall be available (public defender).

    If we are going to subject our children to police interrogation, then they must have at least the protection available to an adult. And more as listed here.

  9. Not to disregard any other posts. However, what roles do the parents play? You KNEW your fair skinned children were going on a field trip and you didn’t apply sunscreen at home BEFORE they left for school? Residing in the state and knowing what the day was like as it passed on, why didn’t one of the parents go to where their children were to apply the sunscreen? (Jobs do allow lunch breaks) Why aren’t the parents (which is happening too often these days) taking responsibility for what happened? The governments fault? Really? Come on people, I’d rather have those standards in place so no other child would share something my child may be allergic to. It’s time to take responsibility for your own actions and stop blaming the other person.

  10. Mespo:

    Yes I understood, however, it is very frustrating to know and constantly see everyone else blamed with the exception of the parent. I never meant the teacher/school district or others played no responsibility.

  11. Loca, et al.
    Blame the parents? Stop and think. Mespo is right. The moment the kids stepped on the school bus or the school campus, the school and its minions became the parents. In loco parentis was the first thing I thought of when I first saw this story and the photographs of kids with second degree burns. If a parent did that and the kid went to school with burns like that, DCS would be on the parent’s doorstep with a warrant in a heartbeat.

    As for sunscreen, just when did sunscreen warrant a visit to the doctor at about $60 a visit and get a prescription? Furthermore, sunscreen wears off and has to be replenished. The school administration should have laid in a supply of good sun block and made sure the kids were protected. If they are this stupid about simple precautions, I fear for the quality of education at that school.

    Somebody above mentioned lawyers. This has nothing to do with lawyers. Any lawyer would have told the school admins and teachers the same thing mespo and I have said–the kids are your responsibility and you damn well need to make sure they are protected. No, it is not the lawyers. It is the fallout from idiocies like the ‘War on Drugs’ and ‘No Child Left Behind’ that created the concrete minded, logic tight, zero tolerance concrete thinking that caused this health problem for the kids.

    What would they have done if a kid got into poison ivy or had a snakebite? Let them die of anaphylaxis because the parent did not send a prescription for an antidote?

    In Loco Parentis. Make a note of it school administrators and teachers. If you do, you might not have to hire a defense lawyer.

  12. I still say cops can not interrogate children without
    parental consent, and other safeguards. What are we doing? Seems like an allergy cure, exposure in repeated doses will reduce reaction to civil rights violations.

    “Miranda, what Miranda? You ain’t eighteen yet.”

    Anybody believe the climate is changing?

    Me, I always got blond in the summer and became darker than Obama, about as dark as Michelle.
    Got group shot which proves it at age 23.

  13. Gonna have to change the lyrics of the song “we are the world, we are the children” to “we are the world, we are the burned”,

  14. I don’t understand why sunscreen requires parental consent. It is not a prescription drug and unless you put it in your eyes, it is very safe. If you have a child with severe allergies, maybe I might agree, but otherwise it is child abuse to let them burn.

  15. The first responsibility of the teacher, even above teaching, is the safety of the children in her/his care. If a child shows signs of being sunburned, you get them out of the sun! The school officials responsible for leaving the girls in the sun should be prosecuted.

    Part of instructing children on how to keep themselves safe would include instructions that if you’re getting sunburned, get out of the sun. Ask the teacher first, but disobey the teacher if you have to. I’ll deal with the teacher later.

    If I had children in a school district that thought they could be questioned by police without me being there, I’d teach the children that if they were being questioned by the police that they were not to answer any questions. They are to ask the police or the school officials to call me. No matter what the say, ask them to call me. Do not answer any questions, just ask them to call me.

    I have fair skin and have had my share of sunburns. I don’t use sunblock but I do coverup. It’s frustrating to go to a beach with sunscreen, sit in the shade for a very short time and still burned from the sun reflecting off the sand. I had to wear total coverup (only my hands visible; my face shaded by a big hat) for most of the rest of the vacation. Can you imagine being on a beach like that? And, of course, no time in the water. Before sunscreen: burns so bad that even a many sizes too large shirt still hurt b/c it touched me. I know what those girls are feeling. They shouldn’t have to.

  16. There will be no visible proof (hopefully) of the interrogation, sun screen may in years to come be found to be carcinogenic or some other thing, and worthy of lawsuits against teacher, school, school board etc.
    I only saw the story once but understand mother of the child that started this brouhaha did not put screen on her child before sending her off to school She bears responsibility for that, and by extension probably not teaching her about using the sunscreen.
    If the kid has parental permission and is sent off to school with a nice full container of sunscreen, (at an age where she/he understands) that they have been taught to apply and reapply when circumstances demand this would not be an issue.

  17. I have never understood how any of these circumstances can take place, more than once, in a country like ours, where lawyers are considered professionals that work towards the betterment of society.

    How are all of these interrogations of school aged kids taking place when there are lawyers with pro-bono hours to work?

    What supports these zero tolerance policies when lawyers are there to prevent abuse?

    There must be something wrong with my assumption that lawyers give a shit about anything other than themselves.

  18. Forty-seven Fairfax middle and high school principals testified that the proposals requiring parental notice or consent shows “a lack of trust and confidence.”
    ———————————————
    because there is “a lack of trust and confidence.”

    idiots

  19. Woosty, right you are. school administrators think first about the school and their jobs.

    As a substitute teacher I reported gay bashing to the principal. His response: “Well, is he gay?” How do I know? Whether he is gay nor not, he’s being bullied. Principal did nothing about it.

  20. I really thought the case “In re Gault” suggested that minors had the same constitutional rights as adults. Being questioned by police requires informed consent and Miranda warnings to prevent self-incrimination. Children are much more subject to being intimidated than adults are. I would think that since the school is in loco parentis while the kids are there, the school officials BY LAW should provide that children cannot be interrogated at school without having either (a) a guardian ad litem to protect their rights during interrogation or (b) their INFORMED CONSENT which should mean that if they want to ask their parents if they should consent, that’s available to them and they are told it is available to them. Jeez, you even let people on a GAME SHOW ask for help at least ONCE.

    I saw a case in Florida where a guy got the death sentence and was executed because he got the “enhanced sentence” because he was considered to have killed somebody to escape from punishment for another crime, and the other crime was a juvenile offense that he had not actually committed but since he was questioned by police without either consent or parental support, and since the police assured him that all his friends had “ratted him out already,” and since his I.Q. was 72, he admitted the juvenile offense without further ado. That killed him.

  21. What Bettykath said, yea, my hypothetical kids would be instructed similarly: callmom, callmom, callmom, repeat.

  22. Raff,

    Some sunscreens do contain ingredients that cause adverse reactions for some. Think the culprit is called PABA. Even so … kids should have been allowed sunscreen after the school made a phone call to a parent.

  23. anon, no offense to the Prof and other lawyers here but I have yet to meet a lawyer whose concern was the right thing and to do right by their client. The issue was can you pay me, pro bono is not interested in civil, at least in my instance where I was provably sold a house touted by inspector as lemon when turned out it was dangerous lemonade. (and though I fall within legal and guidelines they could not care less either.)
    It is sad because I like to believe that they at least started law school hoping to do good.

  24. “California is the only state that allows sunscreen without permission from a doctor.”

    I seriously doubt that this is true. Perhaps the statement is just misworded and California is the only state that *specifically* allows sunscreen.

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