Self-Harm in Children under 14: A Comparison of Inpatients Who Self- Harm with Those Who Do Not
Bonnie Palmer and Graham Martin*
Department of Mental Health, School of Medicine, University of Queensland, RBWH Herston, Queensland 4006, Australia
- Corresponding Author:
- Graham Martin
Department of Mental Health
School of Medicine, University of Queensland
RBWH Herston, Queensland 4006, Australia
E-mail: [email protected]
Received May 08, 2016; Accepted June 27, 2016; Published June 30, 2016
Citation: Palmer B, Martin G (2016) Self-Harm in Children under 14: A Comparison of Inpatients Who Self-Harm with Those Who Do Not. J Child Adolesc Behav 4:302. doi:10.4172/2375-4494.1000302
Copyright: © 2016 Palmer B, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
This study investigated characteristics and variables associated with self-harm in patients in a psychiatric unit which accepted children aged 7-13 years. It sought specifically to determine the role of emotion regulation as a motivation for self-harm in children. The study involved hypothesis driven examination of case files from 80 in patients admitted between 2003-8 to the Child and Family Therapy Unit (CFTU) at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia. Inpatients were selected, independent of the researchers, based on scores for HoNOSCA Item 3: ‘Non-accidental self-injury’. Forty inpatients (‘self-harm group’) had been scored on admission by inpatient staff as 2 (mild problem but definitely present), 3 (moderately severe problem) and 4 (severe to very severe problem). Forty inpatients (the ‘No self-harm comparison group’) had been scored 0 (No problem) or 1 (Minor problem requiring no action). Most common methods were ‘cutting’ and ‘head-banging’. The self-harm group differed from the comparison group in terms of family-related factors such as living situation, and psychological functioning as measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), total HoNOSCA scores, and a history of sexual abuse. Our hypothesis that children engage in self-harm to regulate their emotions was not supported. Explanations for the findings and implications for research, intervention and prevention are discussed.