Children: Self-harming

House of Lords written question – answered at on 4 July 2013.

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Photo of Lord Touhig Lord Touhig Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many children under the age of 18 were admitted to hospital as a result of self-harm in (1) 2012, and (2) 2013 to date.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the relationship between levels of self-harm among young people and access to websites promoting self-harm.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The numbers of admissions to hospital of children aged 0-17 where the primary diagnosis was deliberate self-harm in each month of 2011-12 and 2012-13 are shown in the following table. Data for 2012-13 is provisional. It should be noted that the figures relate to admissions and not necessarily to numbers of children as some children may have been admitted more than once.

Month 2011-12 2012-13
April 1,063 1,117
May 1,257 1,309
June 1,182 1,157
July 1,037 1,086
August 816 794
September 1,048 1,103
October 1,113 1,338
November 1,150 1,368
December 871 1,010
January 1,282 1,428
February 1,110 1,299
March 1,302 Not yet available

Source:

Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), The NHS Information Centre for health and social care.

The Government is committed to preventing self-harm and suicide. Preventing suicide in England: A cross-government outcomes strategy to save lives was published on 10 September 2012. The new strategy – the first in more than 10 years – reflects concerns about misuse of the internet to promote suicide and suicide methods, and the Government’s commitment to continue working with the internet industry in the United Kingdom to keep young people safe online and to promote access to positive support for suicidal people. Similar concerns apply to websites promoting other harmful behaviours such as self-harm and eating disorders.

In January 2013 the Minister of State for Care Services met with internet security companies, charities and other Government departments to explore how to protect children and young people from harmful internet content related to suicide, self-harm and eating disorders.

He encouraged the security companies, such as McAfee and Symantec, to work collaboratively with interest groups (including BEAT) and internet service providers to sign up to a concordat that would help to speed up the process for reporting harmful content and the blocking of harmful websites by parental controls. They gave him positive assurances that they would explore such a concordat. The Government would be willing to facilitate and support such an initiative however we can.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety is already making parental controls more accessible so that parents can control children’s access to harmful content.

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