Sun, Sep 02, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Quarter of British 14-year-old
girls have self-harmed, report finds

Results from the UK Children’s Survey suggest that tens of thousands of 14-year-old girls are hurting themselves as a result of pressure from school, austerity and gender expectations

By Sarah Marsh and Amanda Boateng  /  The Guardian

Devon said that more needs to be done to treat the causes of self-harm.

“We need to look at the environment young people exist in at home and in school so these issues don’t arise in the first place, rather than fire-fighting once they have manifested,” she said.

The Children’s Society report suggested that both boys and girls can be harmed by gender stereotypes and the pressure to live up to them.

Children said they felt pressure from friends to be good-looking, but those who felt that boys should be tough and girls should have nice clothes were least happy with life.

“Issues like appearance, gender stereotypes and sexuality should be included in the new relationships and sex education curriculum,” Reed said. “However, early support for vulnerable children and families in the community, which can help prevent mental health problems from developing, is also vital, and ministers must urgently address the £2 billion [US$2.59 billion] funding shortfall facing council children’s services departments by 2020.”

“These shocking statistics on self-harming among children show the extent of the mental health crisis in our country,” said British Member of Parliament Luciana Berger, who is also president of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health.

“Children in Britain urgently need more mental health support, but the children and young people’s mental health green paper lacked the ambition needed to solve this crisis,” she added. “The government’s continued disregard for early intervention and prevention is failing a generation.”



“I started self-harming when I was 13. I don’t really know why I started doing it. I guess I had a lot going on and wanted to feel in control of something.

“The first time I did it I was in the bath and I accidentally cut myself shaving. At first I was panicking, but then it felt kind of nice, so I started doing it on purpose with various different objects. I would do it all the time, it became addictive.

“I would feel euphoric afterward. I found physical pain easier to control than what was going on in my mind. The moments I felt pain were the moments my thoughts stopped and all I focused on was the physical discomfort.

“I thought I was the only one doing it, but my friends were too. It came up in conversation and I tried to help them. I encouraged them to seek help, although I never told them I was also doing the same.

“As well as cutting myself, I also developed issues with food. I think both things stemmed from all the pressure I was feeling. Girls feel pressure from a younger and younger age these days. We feel pressure to be perfect and when they don’t achieve that they punish themselves.

“I am not sure why girls are more prone to this. Perhaps it is because there is more pressure on us to look a certain way. You tend to see more female models and girls strive to be like them. The gender stereotype is that boys are manly and girls have to be pretty. This leads to people feeling self-conscious and like they need to look and act a certain way. It makes you feel like you cannot be yourself.

“I saw a girl this weekend and she was so young, but plastered in makeup and fake tan and acrylic nails. She was way too young to feel that pressure.

“The solution is better education about mental health, so people know where to go if they are struggling. There needs to be more resources. I am getting better now and on the road back to recovery, but it’s been a long journey. The most important part of getting better for me was knowing I am not alone and others have experienced this.”

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