Meadow High School
Policy Name: Self Harm – Staff Guidelines
Date of Approval:
Effective Date: April 2014
Review by Date: April 2015
Policy/Procedure Author: Kate Meads
Approved by: Senior Management Team
Governor Committee (where appropriate) Approved By:
For Action By:
For Information to:
Approval requested to upload on Meadow High School Website: Date of Policy Equality Impact Assessment: Impact Assessment was carried out by:
Self-Injury Policy for School
In keeping with the Meadow High School’s values, vision and aims, this document aims to give guidance to staff in order to:
Increase understanding and awareness of self-harm
Alert staff to warning signs and risk factors
Provide support to staff dealing with students who self-harm
Provide support to students who self-harm and their peers and parents/carers
Recent research indicates that up to one in ten young people in the UK engage in self-harming behaviours, and that this figure is higher amongst specific populations, including young people with special educational needs. School staff can play an important role in preventing self-harm and also in supporting students, peers and parents of students currently engaging in self-harm.
This document describes the school’s approach to self-harm. This policy is intended as guidance for all staff including non-teaching staff and governors.
Definition of Self-Harm
Self-harm is any behaviour where the intent is to deliberately cause harm to one’s own body for example:
Cutting, scratching, scraping or picking skin
Swallowing inedible objects
Taking an overdose of prescription or non-prescription drugs
Swallowing hazardous materials or substances
Burning or scalding
Banging or hitting the head or other parts of the body
Scouring or scrubbing the body excessively
The following risk factors, particularly in combination, may make a young person particularly vulnerable to self-harm:
Depression / anxiety
Poor communication skills
Poor problem-solving skills
Drug or alcohol abuse
Neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse
Poor parental relationships and arguments
Depression, self-harm or suicide in the family
Difficulty in making relationships / loneliness
Being bullied or rejected by peers
School staff may become aware of warning signs which indicate a student is experiencing difficulties that may lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide. These warning signs should always be taken seriously and staff observing any of these warning signs should seek further advice from one of the designated teachers for safeguarding children – Ross Macdonald, Jenny Rigby or Bernie Gamble.
Possible warning signs include:
Changes in eating / sleeping habits (e.g. student may appear overly tired if not sleeping well)
Increased isolation from friends or family, becoming socially withdrawn
Changes in activity and mood e.g. more aggressive or introverted than usual
Lowering of academic achievement
Talking or joking about self-harm or suicide
Abusing drugs or alcohol
Expressing feelings of failure, uselessness or loss of hope
Changes in clothing/Interests
Staff Roles in working with students who self-harm
Students may choose to confide in a member of school staff if they are concerned about their own welfare, or that of a peer. School staff may experience a range of feelings in response to self-harm in a student such as anger, sadness, shock, disbelief, guilt, helplessness, disgust and rejection. However, in order to offer the best possible help to students it is important to try and maintain a supportive and open attitude – a student who has chosen to discuss their concerns with a member of school staff is showing a considerable amount of courage and trust.
Students need to be made aware that it may not be possible for staff to offer complete confidentiality. If you consider a student is at serious risk of harming themselves then confidentiality cannot be kept. It is important not to make promises of confidentiality that cannot be kept even if a student puts pressure on you to do so.
Any member of staff who is aware of a student engaging in or suspected to be at risk of engaging in self-harm should consult one of the designated teachers for safeguarding children - Ross Macdonald, Jenny Rigby or Bernie Gamble or the designated governor for safeguarding children.
Following the report, the designated teacher / governor will decide on the appropriate course of action.
This may include:
Contacting parents / carers
Arranging professional assistance e.g. doctor, nurse, social services
Arranging an appointment with a counsellor
Immediately removing the student from lessons if their remaining in class is likely to cause further distress to themselves or their peers
In the case of an acutely distressed student, the immediate safety of the student is paramount and an adult should remain with the student at all times
If a student has self-harmed in school a first aider should be called for immediate help
Any meetings with a student, their parents or their peers regarding self- harm should be recorded in writing including:
Dates and times
An action plan
Details of anyone else who has been informed
This information should be stored in the student’s child protection file.
It is important to encourage students to let you know if one of their group is in trouble, upset or showing signs of self-harming. Friends can worry about betraying confidences so they need to know that self-harm can be very dangerous and that by seeking help and advice for a friend they are taking responsible action & being a good friend. They should also be aware that their friend will be treated in a caring and supportive manner.
The peer group of a young person who self-harms may value the opportunity to talk to a member of staff either individually or in a small group. Any member of staff wishing for further advice on this should consult one of the designated teachers for safeguarding children.
When a young person is self-harming it is important to be vigilant in case close contacts with the individual are also self-harming. Occasionally schools discover that a number of students in the same peer group are harming themselves.