It was pure coincidence that while my dh was on call for the self harm rota this weekend that I happened to listen to Dr. Ray Guarendi’s talk (May 31) on research coming out of America (is there any even happening over here?) about the prevalence of teen suicide, self harm and violent crime.
For children aged between 14 -18 suicide is now the third biggest killer. Self harm is so prevalent that I am wondering if there is any family in this countr, or America, who doesn’t know someone who has done this even to the point of attempted suicide?
The research recognises that family breakdown and chaos are strong factors influencing these behaviours, but they also noted something else. Suicide and self harm rates decrease significantly over the summer months and increase again as term starts. This is in contrast to the suicide and self harm rates of those aged 19 -25 whose rates are fairly stable throughout the year.
Violent crime in children rises by 30% in term time!
Researches are beginning to see that there is something in the culture of schools that is enabling and even encouraging self-destructive (and other destructive) behaviour. One of the aspects of school noted, is that peers are left without adult supervision or role modelling for vast amounts of time – and that essentially unsocialised and deeply troubled kids are all hanging around together and dragging each other down.
There is a belief in the UK that if children are forced into school that crime rates will go down, and to be fair the petty crime rate does apparently, go down when kids are shoved into school; but the research shows violent crime rises badly. Now, baring in mind that it is very rare indeed for a bully to be prosecuted it makes these figures even more alarming.
Part of the reason bullies get away with it is the schools refuse to deal with it. But the other problem is much higher up. Remember Lord Soley? The Labour Lord who thought that those of us who removed our children from school afer serious assaults were ‘over protective’? You see Soley and others of that ilk do not believe that children genuinely have rights. They are property of the state and as such are not persons in their own right.