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Self-harm: Children

Question for Department for Education

UIN 60480, tabled on 17 January 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to prevent children from self-harming due to social media.

Answered on

23 January 2017

Good mental health and wellbeing are a priority for this Department. We want all our children to fulfil their potential and we want to tackle the burning injustice of mental health problems, so that future generations can develop into resilient, confident adults, equipped to go as far as their talents will take them.

Self-harm, which occurs in relation to a wide range of personal problems, emotional turmoil and psychiatric disorders, is a serious concern. Schools and colleges should take prompt action to deal with cases of self-harm; as a part of an integrated approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing.

This Department has taken a range of actions to help schools and colleges to respond to and prevent self-harm. We have funded guidance and lesson plans on teaching about mental health in PSHE – which cover self-harm in an age-appropriate way. Training for teachers on self-harm is available through MindEd, a free online portal which has been developed to enable all adults working with children and young people learn more about specific mental health problems and how to support them.

We recognise that teachers are not mental health professionals, and where more serious problems occur, schools and colleges should expect the pupil/student to get additional specialist support. We are extending the joint training pilot to improve collaborative working across schools and mental health services to include up to a further 1200 schools and colleges in an additional 20 areas.

The Department has also produced the statutory guidance - Keeping Children Safe in Education – which schools and colleges must have regard to when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This guidance sets out that governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that children are taught about safeguarding, including online, through teaching and learning opportunities as part of a broad and balanced age-appropriate curriculum; and that governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that appropriate filters and monitoring systems are in place to protect children from accessing potentially harmful and inappropriate material online. The Department also requires all school and college staff to receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training and know what to do if they suspect a child is at risk of harm, including self-harm.

In relation to internet safety, the new national curriculum computing programmes of study, introduced in September 2014, includes e-safety at all four key stages. There is progression in the content across the key stages to reflect the different and escalating risks that young people face as they get older.

In September 2016 the Department announced £1.6m of funding over the next 2 years, for four anti-bullying organisations to support schools tackle bullying, including cyber bullying. Organisations include Internet Matters, who support the reporting of cyber bullying to schools, via an online platform which works on a range of media devices and allows young people, parents and carers to report bullying incidents to schools. ( We have also ensured that schools have the power to confiscate and examine mobile devices as part of dealing with bullying incidents.