According to recent figures the amount of girls being admitted to hospital due to self-harm has increased by a staggering 93% from 2009/10 to 2013/14. In boys the number of hospital admissions rose 45%.
These figures could however be the tip of the iceberg according to campaigners as there may be ‘huge numbers’ of children – especially boys – who are suffering in silence.
Experts say the increase in hospital admissions is likely to reflect a rise in young people self-harming as well as better data collection from hospitals. They say a cultural shift is needed to ensure parents and teachers are not afraid to discuss the topic of self-harm among boys.
Experts believe that boys tend not to admit to self-harming as it is typically perceived as a female behavioural problem. According to statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 659 boys between the ages of 10 and 14 were admitted to hospital in 2013/14, compared to 577 in 2012/13 and 454 in 2009/10.
While figures for girls aged 10-14 were higher, project director of selfharm.co.uk, Rachel Welch says society must not assume that boys don’t self-harm.
“Because of the way society has constructed the image of self-harm, it makes it much easier for girls to come forward and ask for help.
“We’ve actually got a huge number of boys who are suffering in silence, unable to come forward and ask for help because they’re struggling with something perceived to be something that only affects girls.”
Rachel believes that children are likely to be influenced by what they see in the family home or on the Internet. Some research has indeed suggested that children are more likely to self-harm if they have seen it elsewhere.
A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), due to be released in 2015 is expected to show the number of teens who have self-harmed will have tripled over the last 10 years in England.