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The Sussex children who self-harm
Children as young as ten are among hundreds of youngsters being admitted to hospital after self-harming.
On average at least one child was treated for self-inflicted wounds every day in the county’s accident and emergency wards in the past two financial years.
Charities said that self-harm caused by relentless cyber bullying was on the increase and called for education to be included as part of the
curriculum to equip children with the skills to cope with online abuse.
Figures obtained by The Argus found more than 800 children across Sussex
have been admitted to hospital. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust treated 36 children aged between ten and 14 and 479 children aged
between 14 and 19 from July 2011 and June this year.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust treated more than 120 youngsters aged between 11 and 15 years old and more than 180 teenagers aged between 16 and 19.
Four in five of patients treated in West Sussex and two in three in East Sussex were girls.
Scott Freeman, founder of Brighton-based cyber bullying charity Cybersmile, said: “We couldn’t say that any increase is solely attributable to cyber bullying but what we have seen is a rise in the number of cyber bullying cases that have led to self harm.
“This is down to a couple of factors; that there is no respite from cyber bul- lying and the lack of support and education for children in how to process online abuse or how to adapt online behaviour instead of being overwhelmed and turning to self-harm as a result.”
A Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said that studies of young people suggested up to one in ten will have self-harmed by
the time they finish secondary school.
He said that the arrival of young people at accident and emergency with self-harm injuries will prompt a specialist mental health assessment from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
He added that while statistics suggested that self-harm had not “signifi- cantly increased” over the last decade, it is likely that young people, parents, carers and agencies are acting on an increased awareness and seeking appropriate help and support.
He said: “There has been a lot of interest recently in the risks of social media and bullying; our anecdotal experience is that it does feature on the list of things that can contribute to distress, but there are many more things to consider.
“Perhaps it is the public nature of these interactions that intensifies the effect.”
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