Keeping Kids sun Safe: Exploring Parents’ Beliefs About Their Young Child’s Sun-protective Behaviours


  • K. Hamilton
  • K. White
  • A. Hawkes
  • C. Cleary


BACKGROUND: Melanoma of the skin is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. Given the high incidence of sunburn in children and level of sun protection provided by parents is often infrequent and/or insufficient, this research employed qualitative methodology to examine parents’ beliefs about their young child’s sun safe behaviours. METHODS: Parents (N= 23; n=14 mothers, n=9 fathers) of children aged 2-5 years participated in focus groups to identify commonly held beliefs about their decisions to sun protect their child. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis. FINDINGS: A range of advantages (e.g., reducing the risk of skin cancer, developing good habits early in life, parental peace of mind), disadvantages (e.g., false sense of safety, prevent vitamin D absorption), barriers (e.g., inaccessibility, child refusal), and facilitators (e.g., routine, accessibility) to performing sun safe practices were identified. Normative pressures and expectations also affected parents’ motivation to be sun safe with their child. DISCUSSION: These identified beliefs can be used to inform strategies and interventions to improve sun safe behaviours in young children.






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