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Recent research indicates that up to one in ten young people in the UK engage in self-harming behaviours, and that this figure is higher amongst specific populations, including young people with special educational needs. School staff can play an important role in preventing self-harm and also in supporting students, peers and parents of students currently engaging in self-harm


Self-harm is surrounded in guilt, shame and mystery for all parties. Parents often report that they feel it’s their fault their child is harming themselves; teachers report they see the signs but cannot bring themselves to say anything, and even if they want to, they can’t find the words to reach out to young people; and the children and young people frequently state “I need help, I am in terrible pain inside” (Youngminds, 2015)


Self-harm is on the increase and being used as a mechanism to cope with the pressures of life (Youngminds, 2015). It is often dismissed as merely attention seeking behaviour but it’s a sign that young people are feeling terrible internal pain and are not coping.


Young people today are growing up in a harsh environment with increasing stress to perform at school, and the constant pressure to keep up with the latest social trends and networking, although creating ever greater circles of ‘friends’, often leaves young people feeling even more isolated and alone.


The activity on social networking sites can encourage the development of the ‘false self’ and unrealistic comparison to others which serves only to lower self-esteem and drive the authentic, ‘real self’ further inwards leaving them feeling unknown, unseen and alone.


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