Could Head Lice Be Child Abuse?

Bailey - posted on 08/23/2010 ( 17 moms have responded )

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My niece and nephew live with their mother out of state. They are here this summer visiting their father who is my husband's brother. My brother-in-law asked me to watch them part of the time while he's at work because he can't afford to pay anyone to babysit. I am a stay-at-home mother with four young children of my own, AND I'm expecting my 5th child in March. My niece gave head lice to my 2 year old daughter and I. After I found the bugs, my niece told me that she has had head lice "off and on" ever since they moved to New Jersey a year and a half ago!! She said she has been treated 5 times, most recently just before she got on the plane to come here. Her mother did not inform her father of this. Apparently, my mother-in-law knew, and didn't think to tell me even though I would be watching the girl. The kids then told their father that the little girl has been forbidden by her mother to speak about the head lice at school. They also have a younger half-sister that has a severe infestation of lice. Obviously I'm furious with their mother and my mother-in-law for not telling me about this, but more than that I'm very much concerned about these children. I'm wondering if I should turn her in for child abuse, or at the very least, encourage my brother-in-law to do so. I'm shocked that this woman would knowingly allow all the other children that her kids come in contact with to be exposed to this. I wonder what the other parents whose children go to school with these girls would have to say about it.

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Trish - posted on 11/11/2013

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I am going through a similar situation Bailey...My Step daughter last year was sent to our home continuously knowingly with head lice this went on for four months and my two daughters caught it. had I been warned I could have prevented my two girls from getting head lice. I was so furious with my husband's ex because she denied that my step daughter had it and accused me of being so stupid that i am just confusing it with dandruff I KNOW the difference. I called and notified my step daughter's school and that of her other siblings. the other parents have the right to know!!! yes head lice is hard to get rid of but possible if she would get off her A*** and do the work. but my hubby's ex wife is so neglectful in the way of treating the head lice and so many other ways. My step daughter is only 6 years old so it isn't like she can fend for herself...she doesn't even get a shower over there unless her 10 yr old sister gives it to her :( she had head lice from Oct last year through feb of this year, when october of this year she got it again and has had it now for 6 weeks. we treat her here when we get her on weekends we do the shampoo, then we pick nits and bugs out for HOURS then next time we get her back she has head lice again. My husband and I actually fought because I get so angry over the situation (the situation not our six year old) he says she feels alienated because I have to keep her seperated for sleeping arrangement...but I have to protect my daughters too. I want to take his ex to court for neglect but don't know how. I feel so helpless for this little step daughter of mine not being cared for properly she also has lots of accidents and is failing 1st grade :( but yet if I try to talk to her Mom I am over reacting about the lice how dare I be upset and I am inventing the lice in my mind. she even went as far to tell me I am acting "holier than thou" What to do???

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Lori - posted on 08/08/2012

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This is a 4 year old that came back with bruises on him? Did he tell you how he got them? Did you ask? Do you have any other reason for thinking he might be being abused? Bruises by themselves don't prove anything. Where are the bruises? How often does he see his dad? Has he come home bruised up before?

Lashuntrell - posted on 08/07/2012

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My son went to visit his dad on the weekend for a couple hours. He came back with burses on him everytime he went he came bck with burses. What should I do

Lashuntrell - posted on 08/07/2012

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I have a question my son went to visit his father on the weekend for a couple

Holly - posted on 09/23/2010

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my opinion: stay out of it as much as possible BUT make sure someone is speaking up for the child or children. there father should be perfect for this job. sad both parents wont handle it though. on the other hand. sometimes no matter what you do you cant get rid of head lice. she may not be using the treatment the way she is supposed to or somethin.

Dora - posted on 09/23/2010

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I can understand your concern and would be a mom that would turn her in. My one year old ended up with lice, and I was extremely furious because no one that I knew would say if their children had lice or not. I used the Lice MD over the counter stuff, which has no pesticides. Before applying it, I coated my daughters head with Cetaphil soap and then blow dried it. You let this stuff stay on over night (it forms a coat over the hair and suffocates lice and nits) and then pull out nits and eggs that you see. Then I used the Lice MD. I repeated this two days in a row and have not seen lice again. But also to make sure you wash everything in hot water, bedding, pillows, and toys that are washable. It's helpful to get the lice spray and use it on the furniture but it only works if you spray the furniture enough to make it damp (it's costly but necessary). For items that are not washable, keep them in a plastic bag for a week, lice can only survive 2 days without blood, and the extra time would be for any eggs that may hatch. When I was younger I would get lice all the time, so I know it can be a pain to get rid of.

Jacquelyn - posted on 09/13/2010

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Having head lice is not neglect at all. I had everything I ever needed while growing up and lived in a clean environment and still got head lice because of an outbreak at school. However how this mother is treating the situation should be addressed I agree with that. if her kids have had it 5 times over it needs to be looked into on why this keeps happening. Is another daughter/son at school spreading it? If so, was the school notified by another parent? If that is the case why is she neglecting to take her daughter out and treating it properly. Another thing to wonder is how are their living conditions? Is there house clean and have their carpets been treated, bedding ect? If not than that neglect can create a re-infestation. I would have a sit down with her on the phone where your brother-in-law needs to address these issues with her. If not him then you do. This as a direct result affected you and your 2 yr old daughter. However depending on the state there's only so much they can do in a matter of lice neglect. This could be an opportunity though to get in the door and see if other forms of abuse are happening. What happens next is totally on what you do. Lice can scar the scalp and if gone on too long can make the children bald, plus the treatments are for one NOT cheap, and two have pesticides in it and those given so often can have a negative effect on the children.

Courtney - posted on 09/11/2010

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I recommend using mayonnaise. I know it sounds silly but it does help. Coat the child's hair in mayo, wrap as best you can with plastic wrap or plastic bag. Leave sit for approx. one to two hours. Put child in tub and wash mayo out with Dawn or some other kind of dish soap. Then use a conditioner that has either tea tree oil or coconut oil as an ingredient. The bugs are not supposed to like the smell of either. As you rinse the conditioner out, use a comb with as fine teeth as you can use on the child's hair and comb out bugs as you run water over their hair. The running water makes it so much easier to comb through. You can watch as the bugs are washed away down the drain. Then sit and go through hair to get all nits that you can find. I used Rid and Nix on my child's hair but still had them come back three times in two months. I checked out home remedies, and this one worked the best. It also said to repeat after one week, but I never did and have been bug-free for the last three months. I also tackled my house with a bedding and furniture spray, a rug powder that covered lice and fleas, plus dried everything that would fit in the dryer to kill them, including stuffed animals. They recommend a thirty-minute cycle, but I did it for an hour. Hope this helps any in getting rid of the pests. Good Luck!

Sarah - posted on 09/08/2010

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No, head lice is not abuse. Cleanliness and personal hygiene have little to do with whether you get lice. The greatest risk factor is coming in contact with someone who already has it... and it's hard to get rid of. She might have had multiple cases b/c they missed a few... with lice you have clean EVERYthing... If they fail to get her treated, it is neglect. But the parents have the resonsibility to tell the school and care givers of an infestation.

Bailey - posted on 08/26/2010

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I agree, it is medical neglect. I actually talked to my cousin who works as a court advocate for abused children, and she said as much. She also gave me a number to call and report it so that the situation could be monitored, and the school notified. My sister-in-law works for a child abuse hotline, and said these types of issues are called in and reported. It's tough to get rid of, but not impossible. I have been picking through my daughter's hair every day, and have treated her twice with the over the counter stuff, but am still finding eggs. We ordered a product that has a money back guarantee to kill all the bugs, and the eggs. If that doesn't work, I'm taking her to the doctor for an Rx. She is only 2, and this has been really difficult for her. That treatment says it is safe for children 2 and up, but I can't imagine that it could be good for her. The worst part is, this whole thing could have been prevented if my MIL had just told me that the other girl was being treated for lice. The mother bear in me is coming out, and I'm having a really hard time letting go of my anger with her over this. Not to mention the fact that she has been rude and nasty to me twice this summer. I may boycott future family events. Not such a bad idea anyway since every single member of my husband's family chain smokes.

Jessica - posted on 08/26/2010

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Bailey, It is a form of neglect that the lice has gone on for so long..I have a friend who just went tru court to get her daughter full time and one of the things the judge said is that since the father failed to treat and rid the child of the lice and failed to buy her glasses it was abuse based on neglect.

Bailey - posted on 08/25/2010

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Not so. If the school knew, she would not be allowed to attend until every last nit was gone.

Alison - posted on 08/25/2010

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They most likely got the lice from the school. She doesn't want their friends to know because she knows they will be ostracized. That doesn't mean the school doesn't know.

Bailey - posted on 08/23/2010

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From what the kids have told me, their mother has been neglectful in other ways. She has also shown an extreme disinterest in her children, and I have witnessed this myself. Consider this: if your children were attending school with these kids, and you found out that this mother knew about this, sent her kids to school anyway, and threatened them that they'd better keep quiet about it, how would you feel? Don't you think the school should be notified? Obviously this mother is unable to handle this problem, and needs some help, which the school may be able to provide.

Alison - posted on 08/23/2010

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Sounds a little extreme to me. I'm guessing that you're not otherwise pleased with their mother's parenting though.

Dora - posted on 08/23/2010

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I really don't think it is considered child abuse unless the lice is coming from the home because of neglect. Lice is extremely hard to get rid of and can come and go until the very last egg has been killed. I would definitely tell your brother in law to speak to his ex about his children. I can definitely understand you being upset that your child getting the lice as this could have been prevented if you were told. I do feel for you there.

Bailey - posted on 08/23/2010

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BTW, I definitely think the school should be told about this, but I'm not sure where the kids attend. They are starting back to school in NJ next week. Also, I know they could be exaggerating things, but I can't imagine that they are flat-out lying about this. They are good kids.

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