Last week we were fortunate enough to be able to invite a speaker into school who is an expert on one of our more difficult pastoral issues in school. Satveer Nijjar is a well-renowned public speaker on the subject of dealing with self-harm. She has worked for many years in this field and is passionate about removing the stigma attached to the subject, so that we might discuss it more openly as teachers, as parents and as friends.
I’m sure for all of you, the idea of your child engaging in such behaviours is terrifying and something that you would rather not consider. However, sadly, there is a rising trend in self-harm, particularly amongst teenagers, and ever more so since the outbreak of COVID, back in late 2019. It is therefore vital that we, as a community, take on board the information available to us.
Many of you will know that I am not usually speechless at any moment, but the raw and honest way in which Satveer was able to convey her messages, based on first-hand experience, was quite remarkable, and directly after the talk I found that I had a lot more thinking to do than talking. She held her audience captive for a full 90 minutes and engaged with us to allow exploration of the reasons for self-harm, highlighting the issues as being the root cause, rather than the behaviour itself. In many cases, self-harm is not medically significant, although we must, of course, be mindful of the clear links between self-harm and suicide. That said, in most cases, self-harm is used as a coping strategy, and when we delved into this further, we discovered that it could be argued that a great many of us engage in ‘self-harm-type behaviours’ from time to time. A large glass of wine after a hard day at work, “just to take the edge off”, or binge-watching the entire series of Bridgerton in one go ‘to avoid reality for a short while’, resulting in us being tired and less effective at work the next day, could be seen as potentially harmful behaviours. An interesting topic for debate perhaps!
I very much hope to invite Satveer back into school in the autumn term to speak with us again, to offer parents another chance to be involved in the discussion. I cannot possible sum up her talk eloquently enough to do it justice, so I will sign off here and instead attach her own summary sheet which I encourage you to read. If you are concerned about your daughter in regards to self-harm, please talk about it with us. We do not have all the answers but we can work with you to support her if she is struggling. The attached helpsheet gives a range of insightful tips on how to start conversations with your teenager or child on this difficult subject, and could be an opportunity to start dealing with self-harm.
The May event in our Parent Talks programme will take place on Monday 9 May at 6pm. This event will feature Tanya Goodin (www.tanyagoodin.com/) on the subject of Teens and Screens.
Tanya is a trailblazing author, pioneering thinker and campaigner on digital wellbeing and tech ethics, and founder of the digital detox movement, Time to Log Off.
The event will be held in the Theatre; please arrive at 5.45pm for a 6pm start. Light refreshments will be served and there will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session.
To book a place for the Teens and Screens event, please click here.
We look forward to welcoming you.
Miss Rebecca Kneen
Assistant Head – Pastoral Care and Guidance