Survey of Sun Protection Policies in Juvenile Detention Centers in Pennsylvania: Are we also Protecting Vulnerable Communities?

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Christen Botros Samaan


sun protection, CDC guidlines, childhood sun exposure, prevention of skin cancer


The incidence rate of skin cancer is increasing in the United States and blistering sunburns during childhood or adolescence is a major risk factor. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a set of guidelines to provide schools with a comprehensive approach to preventing skin cancer among adolescents and young people. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of sun protection policies, environmental features, and attitudes in institutions responsible for school-aged populations, such as children in juvenile detention centers. Surveys were sent to all (n = 19) public juvenile detention centers in Pennsylvania .Overall, 63.2% (n=12) of the juvenile detention centers in Pennsylvania responded to the survey. Of the 12 centers, 50% (n=6) allow residents to wear hats, 25% (n=3) allow residents to wear sunglasses, 66.7% (n=8) allow residents to wear sunscreen without a provider’s note, and 25% (n=3) provide sun protection education. All the facilities (100%) reported shade-producing structures, but 83.3% (n=10) cover less than 25% of the outdoor activity areas. The CDC’s guidelines include recommendations for schools to encourage skin cancer prevention on school property and elsewhere. Among public juvenile detention centers in PA, we found an absence of policies to reduce sun exposure and a lack of knowledge about the CDC guidelines to prevent skin cancer. Despite these results, administrators are largely in favor of stronger policies and believe sun exposure is an important health issue.


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