Photo: ArishaRay/Getty Images/iStockphoto
N.B. Although, this posting is about the tragedy of self-harm and suicide in children and young people in Britain, but, the tragedy, pain and hurt are global. The children and the youth of the world are in this together. I sincerely hope that this heartbreaking global challenge receives urgent attention by all concerned.
The rates of self-harm have increased in the UK over the past decade or so and are now among the highest in Europe. Moreover, the rates of self-harm are much higher among groups with high levels of poverty and deprivation and in adolescents and younger adults. Self-harm results in about 200,000 attendances at accident and emergency departments each year and is one of the top five causes of acute medical admission. Furthermore, given the pandemic, lockdowns, self-isolation, closure of schools and colleges, the continuing fallout of the inhumane and unjust neoliberal economic policies and austerity, which has resulted in abject poverty for the many, has now created a much higher rate of admission than ever before.
Today, reading my morning news, I was heartbroken and extremely saddened, but not surprised, to see the following headline:‘Coronavirus doctor's diary: We're getting self-harming 10-year-olds in A&E.’ to which I will return shortly.
The plight, struggles, hopes, dreams, health and well-being of children and the youth has always been very close and fundamental to all we do at the GCGI, as evidenced by the number of articles, postings, conferences and interviews and more by myself and other members of the GCGI family and friends.
To recall and to focus our minds, a selection of related postings from our archives are noted below:
This is nothing, but a manifestation of a cruel and inhumane state of affairs
Lest We Forget
‘A country/nation drunk on market values, guided by cruel machinery of exploitation, racism, class division, austerity, cruelty, aggression, that humiliates it’s innocent, weak and vulnerable citizens, with neoliberalism, poverty, inequality and food banks and celebrates extreme individualism, feral competition, worship of mammon, rat-race to a success that it can never deliver and ignores the struggles and plight of its children and youth, ceases to be civilised and sooner or later ceases to exist morally or spiritually.’
And now reverting back to: ‘Coronavirus doctor's diary: We're getting self-harming 10-year-olds in A&E.’
‘The pandemic has had a deep impact on children, who are arriving in A&E in greater numbers and at younger ages after self-harming or taking overdoses, writes Dr John Wright of Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Children are a lost tribe in the pandemic. While they remain (for the most part) perplexingly immune to the health consequences of Covid-19, their lives and daily routines have been turned upside down.
From surveys and interviews carried out for the Born in Bradford study, we know that they are anxious, isolated and bored, and we see the tip of this iceberg of mental ill health in the hospital.
Children in mental health crisis used to be brought to A&E about twice a week. Since the summer it's been more like once or twice a day. Some as young as 10 have cut themselves, taken overdoses, or tried to asphyxiate themselves. There was even one child aged eight.
Lockdown "massively exacerbates any pre-existing mental health issues - fears, anxieties, feelings of disconnection and isolation,"
says A&E consultant Dave Greenhorn.
While Bradford has been in lockdown longer than some other parts of the country, there is no reason to believe this is a local problem. Dave says fellow A&E consultants he's spoken to in Scotland, Portsmouth and Northern Ireland all report a significant increase in mental health attendances - among all age groups, children as well as adults…’- Continue to read
‘They are not likely to get seriously ill with Covid and there have been very few deaths. But children are still the victims of the virus - and our response to it - in many other ways.
From increasing rates of mental health problems to concerns about rising levels of abuse and neglect and the potential harm being done to the development of babies, the pandemic is threatening to have a devastating legacy on the nation's young…’Covid: The devastating toll of the pandemic on children
Supporting Children & Young People who Self Harm
Values-led, Meaningful Education and Economy to Elevate Mental Health Wellbeing
Healing the Wounds: Path to Hope, Joy and Recovery
As an educator, academician and activist, it is no surprise that I strongly believe that the answer lies in better education and a fairer economy. Education must become a vehicle to empower the youth, by having the following pillars, amongst others: Respect and care for the whole web of life, Social and Economic Justice, Ecological Integrity, Nonviolent Conflict Resolution, and Respect and care for relationships. For me nothing else will do. And there you have it. We must try to bring back smiles to the faces of children. Happiness is the best gift to give.
Photo: Sheeba Magazine
'When we bring forth the spirituality of teaching and learning,
we help students honor life’s most meaningful questions.’
‘Don’t just teach your students how to count. Teach them what counts most.’
To reverse the current destructive path and begin the task of healing, we need a different education model and we need a different economic value and economy. However, these are not possible to achieve so long as The Fraudulent Ideology reins supreme. Full stop. Carpe Diem!
This is my call to anybody, everybody in a position of power to instigate change:
1- Introduce and Connect the Children and the youth with Mother Nature
2- Introduce and connect them to poetry
3- Introduce and connect them to the healing power of music.
4- Teach them the Economics of Kindness Not the Economics of the Rat Race
5- Teach them about Emotional Literacy
6- Teach them the art of Simplicity and Living a Simpler Life
7- Teach them the art of Happiness and what it means to be Happy
8- Teach them What it Means to be Human and What Makes us Human
And finally This is My Ten Steps to Heal the World and Make Everyone, Young and Old, Happier and More Hopeful