|Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi|
As a secondary school teacher, I hear students talking about tanning beds each year, particularly as summer and graduation approach. Their enthusiasm about tanning surprised me as this is not an uneducated generation. Their parents had them slathered with sunscreen and topped with caps throughout their childhood. Elementary school teachers taught them to "Slip, Slop, Slap" each year and, in Planning 10, they learned about sun damage and skin cancer. At this point, sun safety should be as instinctive as oven safety for teens, but tanning continues to be a pre-graduation ritual for many.
When the subject of tanning beds came up in one of my Family Studies classes recently, a few seconds of this clip followed my comments about skin cancer and premature aging. I decided that if "It's bad for you" isn't working to curb this celebrity-inspired trend, perhaps "You look silly" will.
Then, my students introduced me to the recently released YouTube clip, "Dear 16-year-old Me." This short ad was far more moving and effective than any statistics that I could share. I love it when students show me cool things.
In the fall, as school grad committees are established, a "Tan Free Challenge" would be an excellent addition to the agenda. The Canadian Cancer Society visited a tan-free grad and provides information about the effects of tanning and interviews with tan-free teens online.