Shock rise in Harrogate children self-harming

A teenage girl looking at social media on her laptop computer.
A teenage girl looking at social media on her laptop computer.
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Leading charities are demanding action after an Advertiser investigation revealed the number of children in Harrogate admitted to hospital for self-harming is at a five-year high.

An increase in ‘cyber-bullying’ may be a root cause, which Relate Mid Yorkshire Children & Young Person’s Service says must be taken more seriously across the district.

Figures obtained by the Advertiser from a Freedom of Information request revealed that 37 children aged 10-14 were admitted to Harrogate and District hospital in 2013.

This number has risen by more than 184 per cent from 2012 when 13 children were admitted after deliberately hurting themselves.

Kathryn Ashworth, chief executive of the service, wants an immediate crackdown to prevent a further rise.

She said: “It is something we need to crack down on because we are seeing an increase in the amount of young-people self-harming due to their pressures and it needs to be taken more seriously.

“You can’t get away from online bullying, it’s 24 hours a day, it’s in your home.

“Traditionally with bullying, you could physically get away from it but online it is everywhere.

“You can’t use social media without being noticed and it can take the form of anything; e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, it’s very hard to get away from.”

The problem appeared to be subsiding in 2011 when numbers fell to eight children being admitted.

However, these figures from Harrogate District hospital suggest that the scale of the problem is increasing, with ten children already being treated for self-harm from the start of 2014.

Self-harming can come in different forms. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), at the Dragon Parade Clinic in Harrogate, supports children after they are admitted to hospital. Manager Heather Davies said she has noticed an increase of children self- harming and warned that the number could be even higher than suggested.

She said: “It can be very dangerous and worrying for the child but also for the family who are struggling to understand what issues their child is facing.

“What you are seeing is the number of people admitted to hospital after self-harming but the number might be even higher than that considering the amount who are not admitted.

“Life is so hectic and there’s so much misunderstanding around self-harm. I think it needs to be taken extremely seriously.”

The Harrogate rise in self-harm cases among youngsters is similar to a national trend.