Parents and young people have differing opinions about issues surrounding self-harm, a new report has revealed.

Just 16 per cent of young people who self-harm would choose to go to their parents for support and advice, new research has revealed.

A study commissioned by a group of leading UK youth charities revealed that while few young people who self-harm would talk to their parents about it, 67 per cent of the parents surveyed believe that they should be their child’s first point of contact.

Sixty-six per cent of the parents surveyed said they thought their child should go to their GP with self-harm issues. However, just 21 per cent of the young people surveyed said they would talk to their doctor.

Online groups such as Get Connected or Self Harm UK were the most popular option for young people seeking help. Meanwhile, 61 per cent said they would turn to their friends for assistance.

Public perceptions

The survey, which was commissioned by ChildLine, Self Harm UK and YouthNet/Get Connected, polled 815 parents of children and young people aged between 11 and 24, as well as 3,800 young people up to the age of 24.

One thing that both young people and parents were found to agree on was that public perceptions of self-harm were not helpful.

Fifty-three per cent of parents, and 67 per cent of young people who self-harm, said that how society views self-harm “often” or “always” stopped people from talking about it.

The main three reasons young people said they self-harmed were low self-esteem, bullying and depression. Parents, meanwhile, believed the major factors in self-harm would be bullying, abuse and family breakdown.

“Attention seeking”

The perception that self-harm could be attention seeking was also brought to light in the survey. Forty per cent of parents thought that this could be one of the reasons young people self-harm.

In contrast, when asked “is there anything else you want to know about self-harm?”, 80 per cent of young people said they wished people didn’t think it was attention seeking.

John Cameron from ChildLine commented: “Many parents really want to offer support for self-harm, but don’t know how to broach the subject with their children; meanwhile the stigma and misconceptions around it, including the fact that many people see it as just attention-seeking behaviour, can make it more difficult for young people to be open with their parents.

“We at NSPCC/ChildLine, together with our charity partners, want to raise awareness of our services which offer comprehensive support to both young people and their parents on this issue.”

The report also included five tips for parents from a young person who self-harms. These were: try not to judge, be honest, accept recovery as a process, listen, and talk about other things too.

Source: YoungMinds

Did you know we have recently worked with Safeguarding boards to develop a course on ‘Self-harm and suicidal thoughts in children and young people’? To find out more, click here.


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