It is not always the easiest decision to contact parents about their son/daughter’s self harm behaviour or to know when to do so.
Students who self harm generally pose a challenge for parents and educators alike. Why people cut themselves is perhaps the least understood of all behaviours in adolescents and this number continuously increases at an alarming rate. Oftentimes, people who self harm do so repetitively but in a secretive manner. It is also confounding to know that this behaviour somehow has an intoxicating effect amongst peers in the same group. These students are in need of self harm help. Although the school is not the most conducive environment for treating self harm, it still is an important player when staff have self harm awareness and undergo self harm training.
Aside from self harm awareness training, another way forward is for educators and other professionals to identify students and young people in need of self harm help, whilst liaising with parents/carers.
Notifying and getting parents involved
Although self harm and self injurycan be very unnerving, when any student is in jeopardy due to self injurious acts, it is school’s responsibility to bring the self harming situation to parents’ attention and to provide resources to resolve the self injury matter. Keep the student/young person informed of your actions and most importantly, involve them in the decision making process. The best time to inform parents of their child’s self harming behaviour varies in every situation. The best time to contact parents is really a judgement call on the educator/professional’s part, however, educators and other professionals have an obligation and duty to do so.
This can also be a tricky situation and judgement call if abuse within the home is suspected in which case other agencies may also need to be involved. Ultimately, listen to the student or young person and be sensitive to their needs.
It is important for both parents and the young person alike to know that there is someone on site at school, college premises or other establishment, that they can turn to in light of any further self harm behaviour concerns or activity. Involving parents in the decision making process is an important aspect, even if the young person doesn’t wish them to be made aware of their self harming behaviour. Again when and how this takes place is an important judgement call on your part.