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Self-harming teens: Listening with empathy is a parent's most powerful initial response

Roughly one in six teens will self-harm, but there are things that parents can do to support their child in distress

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Listening empathetically involves putting aside your own judgement. Picture posed

Listening empathetically involves putting aside your own judgement. Picture posed

Listening empathetically involves putting aside your own judgement. Picture posed

More and more parents are being exposed to the realities of their teenager’s self-harm. It is a frightening and often mis-understood issue and my own research in this area showed that parents are typically shocked and disbelieving that this could be happening to their child.

Rates of self-harm among teenagers vary between 14pc and 18pc according to a range of research studies. That means roughly one in every six teenagers will self-harm. The most common form of self-harm is cutting oneself with a blade or sharp object. Self-harm usually occurs without any intention for the young person to kill themselves. Girls are more likely to self-harm than boys.


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