Self-harm: Childline reports calls in relation to five-year-olds
Charity ChildLine has taken calls about self-harm with reference to children as young as five, its manager in Wales says.
While self-harming is most prevalent among older teenage girls, there are fears it also affects younger children.
But new figures commissioned by BBC Wales show an increase within the selection of 10 to fourteen-year-old girls continue to self-harm.
The Welsh government said it was investing millions in mental health and counselling services for kids.
Ann Pulling, ChildLine services manager for Wales, said there has been a growing pressure on adolescents to see and act a undeniable way.
“Nearly all of people that ring us are aged between 13 and 17 but we’ve had some as young as five – siblings or parents may make contact with us,” she said.
“It is not just girls but boys who find it hard to discuss it as there is a rise of 30% within the selection of boys who contact us about self-harm.”
Reasons for self-harming are complex and private and will be associated with bullying, abuse, or problems at home or school.
Recent research from King’s College London suggested children bullied during their early years are as much as 3 times prone to self-harm than their classmates after they reach adolescence.
It found that half 12-year-olds who harm themselves were frequently bullied.
Ms Pulling said the difficulty of bullying was being made worse by technology.
“For ladies, there’s that pressure that comes from boyfriends sometimes to have interaction in sexual intercourse or perhaps they’d be pressured to send an explicit photo after which regret it,” she said.
She said pressure on children “can come from their peers and it’s going to come from families who expect them to do well”.
“Bullying never stops now. With social media, it doesn’t stop on the school gate to any extent further,” she said.
She said it was “quite a step” for youngsters stressed to show to self-harm.
“But i believe that kids become so unhappy and frightened that they could take care of the physical pain greater than the emotional pain. They generally tend to show that during and harm themselves.”
New figures commissioned by BBC Wales and produced by Public Health Wales Observatory shed some light at the more serious end of the matter.
The figures, which have a look at three-year periods, suggest the largest percentage increase in self-harming leading to hospital admission since 1999-2001 is among younger women, aged 10 to fourteen.
The increase is from about 100 admissions per 100,000 to around 200 for 2009-11.
There is a few better news though because the figures suggest falls in admissions, for both boys and girls, across a number of age groups, since 2006-08.
However, there’s just a tiny reduction among girls aged 10 to fourteen.
ChildLine released figures in December which showed the collection of children counselled in Wales who were self-harming increased from 809 in 2010/11 to one,214 the subsequent year.
Ms Pulling said the jump in calls was probably right down to more awareness of the service than a rise in children self-harming.
Dr Ann John, a professional on self-harm and suicide prevention with Public Health Wales, said there tended to be an issue among young girls but added a protracted-term study in Australia offered hope.
“It showed there’s a peak among girls of their mid and late teens on the time when there is a lot of turmoil happening of their lives – family issues, issues in class,” she said.
“As these children went into adulthood, about 90% doesn’t continue to self-harm.”
She said there has been now more help available and it was positive more were making the most of that.
“There are such things as parenting programmes, mental health first aid, and helping people talk and have interaction on these issues,” she said.
Chris Leaman, from YoungMinds, a charity which goes to enhance the emotional wellbeing and mental health of youngsters and adolescents said there has been an “almost epidemic” of self-harm among children in some parts of the united kingdom.
“Society places an excellent amount of pressure on youth and infrequently we do not recognise what we’re actually doing to young people’s lives,” he said.
The Welsh government said it was firm to be certain “children and teenagers with emotional and mental health needs receive the appropriate care and support possible”.
“Since 2008, we now have invested an additional £6.9m in children and adolescent mental health services and allocated £8m to develop a college-based counselling service,” a spokesman said.
“Moreover, £4.5m might be provided annually from 2012-2013 for accessible counselling services for pupils of secondary school age, year six primary school pupils and 16-18 year olds.