Self-injury is increasingly becoming a recognized problem in schools, and all teachers and non-teaching staff (in primary as well as secondary schools) need a general understanding of self-injury, signs to look out for, and what to do if they become aware that a pupil is self-injuring.
“Self-injury in middle and high school students should not be minimized or dismissed as “attention seeking” or “just a fad”. When people take the radical step of harming their bodies, they should be taken seriously and the sources of their stress addressed.” (Walsh, 2006, p.38)
Signs that someone is self-injuring: People who self-injure often go to great lengths to conceal their injuries so it can be hard to know if a person does self-injure: People who self-injure can seem withdrawn or depressed. You may notice cuts or bruises that are always accompanied by excuses that don’t seem to fit. Many people who self-injure will cut their arms and so they may wear long sleeves, even when it is very hot. Within school pupils who self-injure may look for excuses not to have to wear shorts or short sleeves and therefore may avoid activities like PE or swimming. Particularly where younger children are concerned it is important to keep a close eye on especially vulnerable pupils such as those with a history of abuse.
If you suspect a student may have engaged in self-injury notify the school counselor. The counselor is trained to know how to speak to the child and provide support and guidance. This will include how and when a child’s parents are informed, and which teachers are informed.