A special needs school in England is facing disciplinary action after the Department of Education discovered that it enabled a student to self-harm themselves as a twisted and worrying form of therapy.
Unsted Park School in Surrey provides education for students with high-functioning autism and associated disorders, and instated the "controlled self-harm policy" last January at the request of the student's mother. The student went into the bathroom and, under a teacher's supervision, was allowed to cut himself with razor blades provided by the school.
Because the practice lasted only 5 days before other staff members intervened, the Surrey Police Department decided at the time that there were "no criminal offenses to investigate."
However, the principal and head teacher are now in a position to face the Teachers Agency for their actions. The upcoming hearing will be over allegations of unacceptable professional conduct.
The Priory Group, which runs the school, issued a statement on the case.
"This was a short-term, local procedure introduced by the head teacher and school principal who genuinely believed it was in the best interests of the pupil," it said. "However, they accept that the procedure should not have been implemented without further approvals having been obtained from key stakeholders and senior management prior to its introduction."
While those who self-harm often feel a sense of relief after hurting themselves, this does not make it the best course of action for dealing with one's problems. While self-harmers may believe there is no other coping mechanism for one's mental anguish, it is always best to contact a trained professional for other ways to express one's emotions. And in cases of children with autism, in whom self-harm is very common, self-injurious behavior may be indicative of an attempt at communication. This means that allowing it to happen may completely ignore the reasoning behind it, especially since autistic children's reasons for self-harm are often different from those of depressed or suicidal people.
It is unclear as to how this investigation will turn out, since a recent evaluation of the school stated that "there are robust risk assessments and health and safety processes which protect young people from harm." However, the Department of Education has already expressed their immense worry at this case and hopes the Teaching Agency will take proper action against the perpetrators.