Many a call received on the IBBRA’s Bed Bug Hotline are from panicked parents searching for answers after their child calls and says “Mommy come get me, I’m itchy and have bugs on me”.

Frantically the parent goes online in search of information on bed bugs and finds the IBBRA’s Bed Bug Crisis Hotline. It doesn’t matter what time it is, a friendly voice (sometimes yawning) will answer “Bed Bug Hotline, how may I help you?”

This morning at 3:27am my phone rings, and as I searched for the phone in the dark, I grab it up and hit the answer button. A mom with a young child is frantically trying to put the pieces together of why her son is getting bit and by what? Assuming bed bugs from all the media attention lately, she asks if they are bed bugs; what I can do to avoid picking up my son and not bringing bed bugs back to my home?

I thought to myself, this is one smart woman. She took the time to figure out the possibilities and is taking the right approach of finding out before her home is turned into a harborage and breeding ground for bed bugs.

Maybe this sounds silly but I tell them that are fortunate the child noticed it before they came home and not weeks or maybe months later. Imagine if every hotel or apartment manager knew before a person or guest walked in to their doors that they had just been exposed to bed bugs. It would be a dream come true and so much could be avoided.

During summer months when school is out, children often go over to a friend’s house, grandmas, camp or other places for a getaway. I remember my kids pleading to go to their friends’ houses and their friends coming to ours for sleep overs and we as parents would accommodate their requests and take turns. But that was back before bed bugs were being found everywhere.

Knowing what we know now with the possibilities of our children picking up bed bugs and bringing them home; how can we talk about and address the issue with tack and diplomacy? One would never want a parent of their child’s friend to rebuttal after the fact saying “It was your kid that brought them to my house”. This isn’t a time to point fingers and blame anyone because it could be you next.

There is never a reason to automatically assume, accuse, or blame anyone and you would certainly want to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Yes, bed bugs can be a sensitive subject for many but if they are spoken about BEFORE a situation occurs – all of this can be avoided.

It’s already a little late in the summer season when people are more active and many of you have already allowed your children to venture out to friends’ houses for overnighters or sent them off to camp. As the summer continues, bed bugs will be showing up in places where they were not before.

I’d like to make some suggestions and go over a few scenarios so that more and more people can look at this as a kind of “fire drill” for bed bugs.

Now what?

With our busy lives, just what we don’t need is another thing to learn or worry about; but this is one that people must take serious. Knowing about bedbugs, their nature, hiding places, signs of, risk factors and prevention tactics will certainly set you apart from many people.

Moms often get together through PTA meetings, at the park, at children’s birthdays and more. It is at this time that they should discuss the subject of bed bugs; especially those who children go over to each other’s homes or in car pools and after school activities at each other’s homes. It is at these times when and if a family has bed bugs; their children can be carrying one or two right along with them in their backpacks or clothing.

Many times people are not aware that they have bed bugs (yet) because it is still in early stages, or they think it is fleas or mosquito bites or they are not affected by the bites. When moms come together and share what they learn, be on the lookout for any signs of bed bugs as a team effort; they can be addressed in the earliest of stages to protect each other.

If you were a day care or after school care person and you noticed a bed bug on one of the children, would you tell the parents of the other children that one was found? You bet ya! Just like a child running a fever, head or body lice, scabies, chicken pox or measles; bed bugs can and will spread within any social environment and it is only fair to others to know so that they too can be on the lookout.

I believe that as time goes by, more and more people will feel safe to address bed bugs issues as something that isn’t a “secret or full of shame” which will help with the spread of them being limited compared to what it is now days.

Remember, bed bugs are no one’s fault. Talk about them! They are not about clean or dirty, rich or poor, color or creed. They are here; anyone who has blood can get them and the more we share our knowledge and experience the better off we all will be.

The IBBRA and its members are here to help with educational materials, products and services to best serve the bed bug problems through the world.

Bed Bugs and Children – What now?

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