A little girl having her nit-infested hair shaved off by
parents who could not afford treatment has prompted a
children's charity to start a programme to control the
KidsCan Charitable Trust chief executive Julie Chapman said
the charity started the Nit Busters programme after seeing a
girl's head shaved because her parents could not afford nit
''When you are a little girl with long hair, it's incredibly
stigmatising and impacts on their self-esteem,'' Mrs Chapman
Other treatments being used included dipping a child's head
in kerosene, spraying their head with fly spray or using a
pet flea treatment, Mrs Chapman said.
Each school selected for the programme would have a
hairdresser-like chair installed and experts with nit combs
and bottles of treatment to kill the nits, she said.
The first pupils selected for the programme were in
low-decile schools in Hastings, Napier, Lower Hutt, Porirua
The pilot programme had received funding of nearly $1 million
from the Ministry of Social Development and the second phase
would be extended to schools in Christchurch, Rotorua,
Taumarunui, South Hamilton, Opotiki, and South Auckland.
Mrs Chapman said schools outside the pilot programme could
access combs and treatment to administer themselves but due
to high demand, KidsCan had temporarily run out of treatment
KidsCan had applied for non-government funding to buy the
$125,000 of products required this year to meet the needs of
children outside the programme.
''It's a big problem.''
Otago Primary Principals' Association chairwoman Stephanie
Madden said she had heard of parents using ''extreme
measures'' to combat their child's nits.'We certainly don't
Nit infestations were an ongoing problem in all schools and
parents had to be vigilant and regularly check their children
and, when necessary, treat them, she said.
East Taieri School principal Jennifer Horgan said parents who
had successfully treated their child's nit infestation were
finding their child was being reinfected by untreated pupils.
''It only takes one [pupil] and then everyone gets it again.
You can understand how parents who are conscientiously
checking and treating are upset when they find head lice
She urged all parents to check their children's hair
regularly and treat if necessary. The Mosgiel non-profit
organisation Altrusa had given nit treatment and combs to the
school for parents to use free of charge, she said.