How the self-harmers hide their hurt

16th February 2007 at 00:00
Pupils who self-harm can be masters of disguise, so it is important for teachers to spot the warning signs. Here are some of them:

* They may be withdrawn, depressed or secretive, and spend a lot of time alone

* Lack of energy

* Wearing inappropriate clothes, such as long sleeves in hot weather

* Avoiding activities where they need to expose flesh, such as PE or swimming

If you suspect a pupil of self-harming:

* Focus on the underlying problems

* Recommend counselling

* Suggest distraction methods: using a red felt-tip to mark where they might cut; hitting a punch-bag; rubbing an ice-cube across the skin; putting elastic bands on wrists and flicking them; exercise; writing down negative feelings and then ripping up the paper.

Hannah Frankel

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