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Kidscan Nitbusters Determined to Beat Head Lice Scourge

Kidscan Nitbusters Determined to Beat Head Lice Scourge

KidsCan is calling in the NitBusters to help schools and parents beat the scourge of head lice harming our children.

Head lice infestations recur intermittently in all schools throughout New Zealand. But in many lower decile schools supported by KidsCan, head lice are reaching epidemic levels as the cost of the proper treatment can be beyond the means of parents on limited incomes.

“Teachers are telling us the issue has reached such a significant level in lower decile schools that some parents unable to afford repeated proper treatments are resorting to options which are not only potentially harmful but can also have a major impact on self-esteem,” says KidsCan Founder and CEO Julie Chapman.

“Children with major infestations are having their heads shaved” she says. “This may not be so bad for boys, but unfortunately it is happening more often than not to little girls with long hair. They feel stigmatised, embarrassed and become withdrawn in class.”

“Other concerned but misguided parents are applying flea treatments intended for pets, such as Frontline, or using fly sprays, or even dipping their children’s hair in kerosene,” she says. “On the other hand there are some parents who just ignore the problem which can lead to major infections and the need for medical intervention.”

Working in association with the Ministry for Social Development to help schools and parents combat the problem, the children’s support charitable trust has developed a targeted, community-led treatment programme called ‘KidsCan NitBusters’

Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett has approved a grant of more than $900,000 to fund the rollout of the treatment initiative to 117 low decile schools nationwide. Under the programme a treatment chair and basin will be installed in each participating school in a suitable room/area, and KidsCan will employ local people in need of jobs to become KidsCan NitBusters!!

The KidsCan NitBusters will regularly visit assigned schools in their areas to treat children on site with the help of parents, and volunteers. KidsCan will purchase the proper treatment in bulk, store it and distribute as required to participating schools. For their children to be treated at school parents will need to provide written permission.

“To address this issue effectively we need to take away the undeserved stigma attached to having head lice,” says Julie Chapman. “We also need to educate the families of the children that they don't have to live with head lice. We are sure we can do this by bringing it out into the open and making the treatment process a school and community-led initiative so we can win the war against the Nits!”

The initial roll out of the programme will cover up to 24,000 children in 117 low decile schools across New Zealand this year, and will be extended to more schools next year if it achieves the desired results.


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