The Telegraph 1 October 2013
More than 22,000 children and teenagers were treated in hospital for self-harming last year, according to official figures which experts said showed the “toxic” effects of social media and a society obsessed with body image.
Charities said the statistics, which showed a 30 per cent rise in self-harming among 10 to 14-year-olds, were a “deeply worrying” reflection of the pressures on young people.
Experts warned that cyberbullying on social networking websites had heaped misery on thousands of families, creating childhoods characterised by anxiety and loneliness.
The figures showed that in the past year, NHS hospitals treated 18,037 girls and 4,623 boys aged between 10 and 19 after they had deliberately harmed themselves — a rise of 11 per cent. During the same period, cases involving children between 10 and 14 rose from 4,008 to 5,192 — an increase of 30 per cent.
Lucie Russell, the director of campaigns at the Young Minds charity, said children were living in an “unprecedentedly toxic climate”, with a 24/7 online culture that they could not switch off. “Cyberbullying and ‘sexting’, bleak employment prospects and a society obsessed with body image are creating a negative environment around children and young people,” she added.
Young people turned to self-harm as a coping mechanism to manage emotional distress and were too often dismissed as attention seekers, said experts.