A child that causes harm to their own body is demonstrating that they are struggling mentally. According to a piece in The Age, the number of children aged 10 to 14 who are needing to be hospitalized after hurting themselves has grown by 35 percent in just under a decade.
New research into this area is finding that among this age group of children, there is a growing prevalence of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. At the same time, these things are showing up in children at even younger ages.
A report from the Autralian Institute of Health and Welfare indicated that in the 2006-07 timeframe, 570 children were admitted to hospitals nationally as a result of harming themselves. Girls tend to be more likely than boys to hurt themselves.
“The increase has been driven by a 50 per cent increase in the rate for girls, whereas the rate for boys has remained the same,” said Deanna Eldridge in The Age. Eldridge is the report’s author. “Self-harm in many cases isn’t intended to be fatal, particularly in that age group.”
Paul Denborough, a child psychiatrist with The Alfred’s child and adolescent mental health service, believes the rise in children causing self harm is due to a combination of greater awareness and greater incidence of mental health issues.
“Perhaps in the past they were more protected from stressors,” Denborough told The Age. “Kids are drinking earlier, smoking earlier, self-harming earlier, having sex earlier … the younger you have your adolescence the more stressful it is and the less skills you have in coping with adult situations.”
This report helps to shine awareness on a growing problem that children are struggling with issues that need to be addressed. Parents need to educate themselves as to the causes and signs to look for before children reach the state of causing self harm.