Fri | Jun 18, 2021

My students keep hurting themselves

Published:Tuesday | June 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Q. I am getting cases at my school where children are injuring themselves, even though we send them to psychologists and psychiatrists for treatment. Is there a way that we can help them when they return to school?

Many of these children are criticised for their behaviours. You can ask the psychologist or psychiatrist to come to your school and provide a training session for teachers, to guide them in how they can help to be compassionate to children who hurt themselves. It will be important to be non-judgemental and compassionate. Though a child is in therapy, remember each person takes time to heal.

Q. What is the professional role of a counsellor at a school when a child hurts himself to get attention?

The school counsellor usually will take a child away from a crowd that may have been formed and provide immediate one-on-one attention. An assessment will be done by the school counsellor to determine the extent of any harm experienced. This may require that the child be taken to a hospital or be sent home with a responsible adult. The school counsellor may require that the child be assessed by a psychologist before returning to school, to ensure there are no emotional or behavioural concerns that may need further help.

Q. I was told that when someone feels hopeless we should be concerned about suicidal thoughts. Is this true?

Many people believe that because they are experiencing certain negative situations they are not in control. These persons may hurt themselves, as it may provide a needed sense of control. Once an individual shares thoughts of hopelessness, you should make time to speak with and encourage them. If you are concerned that you have not motivated them to work on positively resolving their problems, you should refer the person to a professional counsellor.

Orlean Brown-Earle, PhD, is a child psychologist and family therapist. Dr Brown-Earle works with children with learning and behaviour problems throughout the island and in the Caribbean. Email questions to or send to Ask the Doc, c/o The Gleaner Company, 7 North Street, Kingston. Responses to concerns are to be considered as general, as cases shared with psychologists privately would be queried more deeply. Pray always!