"To our beach neighbours sunbaking brazenly with their children: I have a message for you."



The hot January summer sun was beaming down with every one of its high-level UV rays out in force.

I was at the beach with my family. We were enjoying a week away at the coast – soaking up the warmth, the salty sea water and the sand.

While we enjoyed this particular day we were sun smart. We slipped, slopped, slapped, seeked and slid, just as Sid the Seagull has told us for years.

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Put simply, we were vigilant about being safe in the sun because the reality is you need to be.

With Australia well known as the melanoma capital of the world, and the consequences of sun damage being well-publicised, there is really no excuse to be out in the sun without protection – and given we’re a family of fair-skinned humans we especially need to heed the warnings.

We lathered on our SPF50+ prior to leaving the house on every part of our body that was practical and recommended.

We reapplied every two hours to be safe.

We wore hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved rashies.


We sat under a beach tent when we weren’t playing in the sand or in the water.

It was just common sense. Or, so I thought.

You see, next to us sat another family. Similar to us in most ways, apart from one extra child, their very tanned skin and the fact that they did just about everything opposite to us while they were there.

Our beach neighbours, other Caucasian Australians, arrived not long after us and left just before, meaning their beach day was about four hours. But rather than sitting under a beach tent or umbrella to escape the 38-degree sun (which also was accompanied by an extreme UV rating that day) they laid on their beach towels, the damaging sun shining directly on top of them.

They stayed there, like that for the majority of their stay.

There were no rashies, no hats, no sunglasses, no zinc, no visible sunscreen residue in sight, and there were zero signs of sunscreen application throughout the day.

In fact, there were not even any shirts on the two young boys or their father, the three of them wore only board shorts, their bare skin exposed the entire day. The two females, a young girl and her mother, only wore bikinis.

As I looked around the beach at the hundreds of other patrons, this family were thankfully the odd ones out. Every other child I saw looked like my kids, their parents demonstrating proper sun-safety. The majority of teenagers and adults also wore rashies, or could be seen applying sunscreen.

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With 2020 being a new year and a new decade, but with the same facts about the sun that we have known since the late 1980s when the Australian Sun Smart program began, I can’t understand this negligent and dangerous behaviour, especially by parents.

Sobering facts like these from the Cancer Council.

And perhaps most significantly, the fact that infants and toddlers are particularly vulnerable to skin changes caused by UV radiation. According to the Victorian State Government’s Better Health Channel, “Around 25 per cent of lifetime sun exposure occurs during a person’s first two decades of life.”

So, after sharing this not exactly new information, I have a message for my beach neighbours:

Not only have you put yourself at risk, being poor role models for your three children, but you have placed three young lives that you as parents are responsible for in danger.

You willingly and knowingly allowed them to be exposed to direct sunlight for hours without appropriate sun protection that day.

While this may sound harsh, because it is (it is also accurate), thanks to you, their parents – their protectors and caregivers – your three young children have now potentially been given an express ticket to adult melanoma and skin cancer. A ticket nobody wants.

And perhaps the worst thing is, it was all knowingly and easily avoidable.

Feature Image: Getty.