Daphne Toolkit

Deliberate self-harm among children and adolescents in Europe

Project Reference Number: 

Deliberate self-harm among children and adolescents in Europe

This 24-month project built upon exploratory work undertaken with Daphne funding and centred on the incidence of and responses to self-harm by adolescents aged 15-16 years.
More data were collected and analysed in a comparative exercise; support systems were identified; a process of investigation of the mechanisms available was put in force to be better prepared for the future of the project. Meanwhile, the database which can be consulted on the website is expanding.




This project comprised the ‘European added value’ elements of a wide-ranging research and analysis undertaking in seven Member States – BE, DK, DE, UK, IE, IT, NL – plus Norway, Australia and Hungary. Within the project, the partners met and regularly consulted on the development of a common methodology (potentially adaptable to other Member States) for studying self-harm by children and adolescents in Europe. The project sought to gather information on the scale of the problem, identify the main characteristics of self-harm among the target group, assess preventive measures employed in various countries, support services available and gaps in service provision. The objective was to raise awareness of the problem and to provide professionals, policy makers and practitioners with information about the problem.
The partners used the agreed methodology in national, separately funded data collection undertakings – the Daphne project sponsoring organisation and partners giving support and continuing consultation – and then, within the European project the different national data were collated and comparatively analysed to produce EU-relevant results.  The project’s preliminary findings were disseminated through relevant academic and practitioner mechanisms under the title: Child & Adolescent Self-harm in Europe (CASE) Study.
The methodology developed for data collection centred around a monitoring form implemented in hospital settings and a survey questionnaire used in school settings. All partners participated in the design of the methodology and the research process. The collaboration was fruitful and produced a great deal of data. A literature review of the secondary research provided background data on the topic and a survey of 15-16 year olds in nine partner countries was undertaken. Definitional problems were very problematic in this project and a range of self-harm activities had to be identified. Often these were culturally specific and gendered. Questionnaires were designed after discussions with partners and a number of selected schools were approached to participate in the survey.  A sample group of 5,000 children in each country was surveyed. This sample was not chosen in a systematic or representative way and every country selected schools in different ways. Ethical guidelines came from the governing body of each partner organisation rather than developing a harmonised methodology for ethical guidelines. All children were assured of complete confidentiality and asked to fill in the questionnaire about different types of self-harm in lesson that complimented the topic.
This project continued in a second project funded by the Daphne Programme: 2002/089/YC

Material available

· Data collection tools
· Data set from the survey findings
· Overview of teenage self-harm in the EU
· Assessment of service provision for youth who self-harm
· Website