Warning over web self-harm sites

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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“Alarming” numbers of children are being exposed to self-harm images online which could encourage them to hurt themselves, charities have warned.

More than half of children aged 11-14 who viewed images of self-harm online said they “felt like hurting themselves afterwards”, a joint survey by four UK youth charities found.

Sixty percent of children aged 11-14 claimed they had shared pictures of people self-harming on social media, the survey added.

The survey of 2000 young people aged 11- 21 was carried out by ChildLine, YouthNet, selfharmUK and YoungMinds.

It also claimed that nearly 80% of young people aged 18-21 have self-harmed or know someone who has.

Lucie Russell, director of campaigns at YoungMinds, said: “These findings are extremely worrying and beg concerning questions about the relationship between self-harm, children, young people and parts of the online world.

“Our research shows that exposure to images of people self-harming online is far too common among children and young people and that this exposure is having a significant effect on their well-being.

“What is most frightening is the young age of children being affected by online imagery with 11-14-year-olds finding the images particularly upsetting and making them more likely to self-harm themselves.

“Sharing images of self-harm on social media is also more common among these younger age groups, which is also a very worrying finding.”

The figures were released ahead of Self-Harm Awareness Day, which will take place on Sunday March 1.

Emma Thomas, chief executive of YouthNet said: “We all have a responsibility to share content and images responsibly online and to be aware of how what we post might affect others.

“Far more must be done to educate and empower young people, so they can be safer online.”

A Government spokesman said: “The Government takes the issue of child safety online very seriously and has set out a series of measures to help keep children safe online.

“The four main internet service providers (ISPs) have committed to giving their customers an unavoidable choice on installing family friendly filters that will protect all devices in the home.

“These allow parents to prevent their children from accessing suicide and self-harm sites as well as other potentially harmful content.

“We’re investing £150 million to help young people with eating disorders and those who self-harm and we will shortly publish proposals on how to improve mental health support and information for children and young people.”

Published: Friday 27th February 2015 by The News Editor

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