Starting to itch in the head at the thought of the new school year? You’re not alone.
A Galaxy Research survey of more than 1,000 mums of children aged 4-12 years old revealed that 57% of mothers are not comfortable talking about their child’s head lice. A significant number of mum’s (72%) also say that they struggle to break the cycle of head lice with their children and believe that their child’s school has a chronic problem with infestation.
Almost half of parents don’t admit their children have head lice to their school – which further compounds the problem. And 42% of parents admitted they “secretly” made judgements about social hygiene towards other families with head lice infestation.
According to MOOV, lice prefer clean hair to dirty hair so the judgement about cleanliness is unwarranted.
“Having children with head lice can be a real challenge,” says Australian swimming star and ambassador for MOOV, Nicole Livingstone, who is mum to three children under 11.
“Not only do you have to inspect the whole family to check for lice and eggs but you also have to deal with the tears and distress that so many children experience when they find they’re playing host to a head lice party!”
During the first school term of 2013 MOOV will be running an education program for over 150,000 primary schools students called ‘Defend Your Class’. The program, developed in conjunction with teachers, will help reduce the stigma of head lice amongst both kids and parents, removing the ‘embarrassment factor’ by encouraging open communication and better lice management practices.
“Like most parents, our family life is busy enough without bringing head lice into the equation,” says Nicole.
“The MOOV school program is a great idea to encourage parents to openly talk about the problem to reduce the stigma. As responsible parents, we need to try a new approach and if by the simple nature of an open chat we can lessen head lice, I’m willing to give it a try!”
Nicole says it’s important to check children’s hair and talk to them regularly about lice.
“This helps remove the ‘embarrassment factor’, as well as educating them that it’s not okay to make fun or talk about other children that have head lice.”
The MOOV survey estimates that since September 2011, there have been 4.5 million cases of head lice in Australia. The ‘Defend Your Class’ program includes free advice, information and class plan packs.
Nicole’s tips to topple head lice.
- Teach our children that head lice like all types of hair – even mum and dad – and they are nothing to be embarrassed or worried about; just something that needs to be ‘zapped’ quickly.
- Make regular checks part of your routine – as regular as every hair wash. I’ve found that ‘our’ head lice quite like hair behind the ear and we joke that they hang out there as they think we can’t see them. It’s good to lighten the mood for kids because it’s unpleasant for them.
- Even if you’re not concerned about head lice, try to check your children a few times a week. It will help remove the negative association for your children. We pop a DVD on but you could set up a mini pamper parlour or pretend barber shop to make it a bit of fun.
- I always have a bottle of MOOV solution in the bathroom cabinet. It lasts for years and it means as soon as you see something, you can ‘zap’ it.
- Don’t put it off! Don’t be afraid to tell other mums and the school. If you don’t, the only creatures you’re helping are the lice!
- Be more supportive of parents who can’t seem to manage the problem. It doesn’t mean they’re not clean at all. Offer to share your experience with them.