Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy

3/1/2006

Cleanliness of head and Body 1911

The parents being notified of the medical inspection of their children, as stated above, the great majority of the usually dirty children are subjected to a bath the previous evening, and arrive at school in their Sunday clothes. It is, therefore, impossible to calculate accurately the average cleanliness of each child. On one or two occasions this part of the schedule was left for the teachers to fill in, but the standard varied so greatly that the practice was discontinued.

The question of cleanliness, especially as regards the presence of vermin, is a very important one, and is engaging the attention of many notable people who are interested in child welfare. It is a national disgrace that this verminous condition should prevail so extensively in all town Elementary Schools, especially when it is so amenable to treat One explanation of the comparative in difference with which the presence of vermin is regarded may be that it is not generally understood to what an extent they affect injuriously the general physical condition of the children, causing sores, and, in consequence, enlargement of the glands of the neck, which are very prone to become the seat of tuberculosis. Whenever the condition is present to a marked degree the child becomes pale and anaemic, and is much more likely to fall a victim to disease of a serious nature. If mothers and teachers would only appreciate the fact that in nearly every case the cleaner the child, the healthier he would be, then much would be accomplished.
Medical Inspection in Leith has done a great deal in this connection, and, in some of the worst cases, one can hardly recognise the child as the same being after treatment.
The verminous condition is also a source of danger to other children, and again and again we meet with clean children who have unmistakably been infected from neglected eases, moreover, the emanations from the clothing and bodies of such children pollute the atmosphere, as can be easily proved by going into a cloakroom in one of the Schools of the poorer districts, especially on a wet day. Girls, with their long hair, are more affected than boys, and a great diminution would ensue if mothers would only keep their girls’ hair short during the early stages of school life, and later have it plaited.
Unfortunately, there are many mothers among the less educated classes who labour under the delusion that the presence of vermin or nits (eggs) is all indication of strength, and the sooner we can dispel this erroneous idea the better it will he for the community.

In dealing with these cases, tie method of procedure adopted is as follows —Whenever a case is met with, a notice, in terms of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1908, section 6, is sent to the parent, with instructions how to cleanse the head, within seven days, if properly carried out. A list of infected children is kept at each school, and they are re-visited within a week. If, on the second visit, the child is found to be no better, a second notice is sent to the parent, marked ‘Second Notice,” and, in addition, the nurse calls at the house. In the majority of cases this is all that is required. A certain proportion, a week after the nurses visit, are still found to be untreated, and a
“Final Warning” (blue card) is issued, stating that previous notices have been sent, and that if the condition is not remedied within another week, the parents will be liable to prosecution and fine. If, a week later, there is still no improvement, the case is reported to the Board Only three cases sere so reported during the year hut, unfortunately, no proceedings were taken. This small number is,unhappily, not an indication of the number which should be reported, but with only one nurse, who has so much other work to do, it is impossible to devote more time to alleviating this deplorable condition
Very bad cases, when discovered, are sent straight home with a notice, and the nurse calls the same day and gives instructions. Afterwards the child is watched daily until it is fit to attend school. Coincident with the removal of vermin and nits, all sore places on the head and enlarged glands usually get better, and a marked improvement in general health is apparent.
Where the clothes are found to be in a verminous condition the child is sent home, the nurse follows immediately and instructs the mother how to deal with then.
When the nurse discovers filthy or infested houses, the Sanitary Authorities are informed, and they visit the home, but as there is no Cleansing Station in Leith, the Cleansing of Children’s Act, 1899, unfortunately cannot be brought into force.

Source-The Leith School Board Report 1911

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