Calls to extend self-harm intervention to primary school children

11 January 2021

Three per cent of more than a thousand Melbourne children reported self-harm at age 11 and 12. They had been assessed annually from the age of eight to nine (wave 1) to 11 to 12 years (wave four) . Of those who self-harmed, 64.3% were females and 35.7% were males.

In the first three waves of the study, published in PLoS One, predictors of self-harm included depression or anxiety, bullying and drinking alcohol.

In wave four, associations with self-harm included having few friends, antisocial behaviour and being in mid to late puberty.

Participants who reported having few friends were seven times more likely to have self-harmed at age 11 to 12, with those who were bullied 24 times more likely.

Lead researcher Dr Rohan Borschmann said: ‘Ours is the first study to estimate the prevalence of self-harm among primary school-aged children in the general community, and it sheds light on the impact of peer relationship, mental health problems and puberty on children.’  

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