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609 children admitted to Bradford hospitals from 2010 to March this year
More than 600 children, some as young as nine, have been admitted to hospitals in the Bradford district after self-harming in the last three years, figures exclusively obtained by the Telegraph & Argus reveal.
The youngest age of a child admitted to BRI was just nine, with the youngest at Airedale being ten. A total of 441 children aged ten to 16 were admitted to the two hospitals.
The reasons for treatment range from intentional self-harming using sharp objects, injuries caused by falls from high places or by lying before moving objects, through to drugs, alcohol or solvent abuse.
At Airedale Hospital, there were 14 admissions from January to March this year, 45 in 2012, and 58 both in 2011 and 2010. Bradford Royal Infirmary saw 43 admissions from January to March this year, 110 in 2012, 137 in 2011 and 144 in 2010.
ChildLine, which is run by the NSPCC, said self-harm was an area of growing concern.
And Councillor Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member for children’s services, said it was “shocking” that children as young as nine had self-harmed.
“There needs to be a thorough assessment of the situation for children that young. Clearly, they are early warning signs,” said Coun Berry.
“I do recall one or two similar situations when I was a kid where people would harm themselves but we live in a far more complex world now, with bullying and harassment on the internet.
“It is very important that parents are aware of the tools available to prevent online harassment.”
He said of self-harming: “It is very worrying. I am a parent myself, and I have worked in probation and social work before.
“We need a growing campaign of awareness, and to help young men and women. They need to talk about it.”
Coun Berry said youngsters needed to speak up about problems, adding: “It’s about intervention and raising awareness – they need to talk about it to someone they trust. Talk to a GP, raise it at school, contact ChildLine or use online tools. Talk to someone you feel safe talking to.”
As for parents whose children were self-harming, Coun Berry said: “We need to work to support them as well. For parents it is a real worry.”
Coun Berry said that children who attended hospital with self-harm injuries were referred to social services and contact was made with them so they could be assessed.
A spokesman for ChildLine said: “Self-harm is a growing area of concern for us.
“It seems the pressures facing children are increasing at such an alarming rate that some of them see this drastic measure as the only answer to their problems.
“The reasons for self-harming can be very personal. They can be linked to problems at home, at school or because children are being abused. Often young people don’t know why they do it and talking through their problems can help them identify what is upsetting them. In many cases the children are so desperate and in such distress they can see no way out. They feel alone, terrified and are sometimes suffering in a way that would even leave adults struggling to cope.
“But we can always offer support and help to a child, who might think they are in the darkest of places, so they can begin to turn their lives around. No matter how bad things seem it can help to talk to someone who may be able to provide a crucial lifeline.
“If you need someone to talk to, contact ChildLine free and in confidence on 0800 1111 or visit ChildLine.org.”
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