Teaching Teens About Melanoma and Sun Safety


Teaching students about the dangers of sun overexposure and tanning beds is becoming more common as rates of melanoma in the United States increase. These lessons are great opportunities to help students become familiar with health enhancing behaviors, such as sun safety tips and self skin checks.

Read on for resources that will help your students stay safe in the sun. (Click each heading for a link.)

Melanoma Education Foundation

This Massachusetts organization hosts melanoma prevention lessons that are taught in over 1,700 schools across the United States. All of the materials needed to teach each lesson are free, and the website is full of additional information relating to skin checks and early detection of melanoma.

While this website is comprehensive on its own, another branch site from the MEF is geared specifically toward teen health and wellness educators.

Mollie’s Fund App

I found this free app (available on Apple and Android devices) to be easy to navigate and intuitive to use. The app provides instructions and demonstrational pictures for completing a five-step self skin check, and you can program the app to remind you to perform this check monthly. Additional information about the ABCDEs of melanoma, with pictures of each characteristic, can be found on the app, too.

Sun Smart U

A product of the Skin Cancer Foundation, this free lesson plan is another nice addition for teachers looking to cover skin cancer in their classroom. The lesson is divided into eight parts, which keeps things from getting stale. And there is plenty of opportunity to add to the lesson, with over 30 additional resources provided on the website. The lesson contains real life stories and is also aligned to the National Health Education Standards.

It is my hope that the resources above can help you educate your students about the dangers of overexposure to the sun and melanoma. Skin cancer does not just happen to older adults; teenagers can get it, too. By teaching students about healthy sun and skincare behaviors, you’re providing them with the tools and skills to stay safe.