Blog by Mrs Fergusson, Depute Rector
report about the number of teenagers self-harming was reported by the BBC today
revealing one in four girls aged 14 has admitted self-harming.
While it is
really important to recognise this problem exists and examine the best ways of
supporting those affected, it is also important not to cause any undue fear.
years can be difficult for many children for a variety of reasons and The Children’s
Society’s survey of 11,000 children revealed 22% of girls and 9% of boys had admitted
to deliberately hurt themselves. Common causes for self-harming, which can
include everything from cutting and punching to hitting and burning, include
depression, bullying, pressure at school, emotional abuse, grieving,
relationship problems and pressures of social media.
for today’s teenagers is a very different one from the world in which their parents
grew up and it can sometimes be difficult for parents to understand and appreciate
the ‘modern’ pressures our youngsters face on a daily basis.
bullying has always existed but throw social media into the mix and this issue
has a much wider and often very public impact. Not to mention the accessibility
of social media sites which glamourise the act of self-harming.
Hutchesons’ we take the emotional and physical well-being of our pupils
extremely seriously and we have invested heavily to ensure all our pupils are
nurtured and cared for. Our pastoral care staff are well-trained and our pupils
in each year of Secondary have a team of teachers to whom they can go to for
support. The year tutor teams operate an open-door policy so pupils with any
concerns or issues can speak to them. We also have a trained counsellor whose
sole responsibility is to be available to pupils who, for whatever reason, need
to speak to someone.
pastoral care is not simply reactive and our staff are pro-active in
identifying whether a child needs a little extra support or perhaps just a
friendly chat to get stuff off their chest. Throughout the academic year they
keep a watchful and protective eye over their pupils.
School/Parent partnership is very important in identifying pupils who need
extra support and so I would urge any parent who has concerns about their child
to contact myself at email@example.com
self-harming often keep their actions secret and so parents may not be aware
their child is struggling. The NSPCC has issued guidance to help parents spot
the signs. Look for physical signs such as cuts, bruises,
burns and bald patches from pulling out hair. These are commonly on the head,
wrists, arms, thighs and chest.
emotional signs are harder to spot:
and low motivation
withdrawn and isolated, for example wanting to be alone in their bedroom for
weight loss or gain
self-esteem and self-blame
or taking drugs
What we as parents can do to help our children.
- Show you understand
- Talk it over
- Discover the triggers
- Build their confidence
- Show you trust them
- Choose who you tell carefully
- Help them find new ways to cope
There are a number of places young
people can turn to for advice and support and the Young Minds charity is a good
place go for information.
As parents the best thing we can do for our children is be aware of their reality and the problems they face so we can offer them the support when and if it is needed. So while the BBC report's shocking statistic may cause alarm amongst parents, it also serves its purpose of highlighting the issue.