Bullying and Self Harm – How do we teach our children to tell themselves “I’m Enough”?

Bullying and Self-Harm - I'm Enough focused on our Youth and their mental health when it comes to Social Media

Bullying and Self Harm. The phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” is one most of us have probably seen or heard at some stage in our lives. But have any of us ever taken a moment to think about what these words really mean?

While many Kiwis consider New Zealand a safe, wholesome environment in which we can raise our children largely free from worry, the sad truth may be that this is not the case. Unfortunately, there are some aspects of growing up in our schools that have a significantly negative impact on our children – one of the most consequential being the rate of bullying in Kiwi schools.

How does bullying within schools affect children in New Zealand?

The Education Review Office revealed that 39% of all schoolchildren in New Zealand reported being bullied at their current schools, the majority occurring in primary schools (46% of primary school children). Despite the many anti-bullying measures currently employed in our schools, however, the shocking statistics of ongoing bullying show that the strategies in place are simply not enough.

The fact of the matter is, over ⅓ of our children currently spend 5 out of 7 days a week afraid of what awaits them in the school halls, and that is not acceptable.

Self-harm and suicide: Two topics any parent fears discussing with their kids

Another difficult topic we must touch on in this discussion of our children’s welfare is that of self-harm.

One of the most shocking statistics of all is the fact that almost half of all high school students will attempt self-harm before graduating.

What we know about self-harm is that those who practice it do so largely to distract or compensate for emotional pain. What we don’t know, however, is how to properly help those of our children that engage in self-harm to seek other methods of self-healing. Part of this lack of knowledge clearly stems from the taboo that self-harm holds within our community – Ross Sinclair, former chairman of the Greater Wellington Secondary Schools Principals Association, describes self-harm as “the elephant in the room in secondary schools”.

Bullying and Self Harm – Our young people are turning to each other for support.

Because of this taboo aspect of the conversation on self-harm, our children are now turning to each other for help. In this age of digital and social media, the Internet is a unique resource allowing us to communicate with others across the world, providing a platform from which our children can connect with other kids who are going through similar struggles.

While it is good that they are seeking help, with the digital world as it is, there is potential for our kids to engage with others in ways that are a detriment to themselves.

What can we do to help our kids cope with bullying, self-harm and suicide?

The questions that stems from this discussion on bullying and self-harm are as follows:

  • How do we, as the generations leading our children into the future, help them to love themselves, and consider themselves “enough”?
  • How do we teach our children to seek help in the right places, and how do we provide the help they need, without our kids having to resort to taking matters into their own hands?

Mother, company director and advocate for the safety and wellbeing of children in New Zealand, Cathy Mellett, summarises the ongoing worries of a Kiwi mum in her address to all parents with concerns for their children in response to the subject of self-harm and suicide:

“As parents, if we become aware that people are having those discussions [surrounding self-harm and suicide], what do you think we should be doing?
I have two thoughts on this. The first is, if you become aware of a child that is having suicidal thoughts, my suggestion would be to reach out to that person’s parents – but that’s a hard thing to do. On the other side, the second option would be for you to have a no-holds-barred discussion with a school counsellor. Make an appointment in confidence, and go and take your thoughts and care and concerns to that school counsellor. Why?” I believe as adults we have a duty of care – not only to our children, but to the children our children connect with, and the communities that we are a part of. And therefore, I would suggest that we take action.”


Mellett goes on to advise that there are two ideal options to select from when considering how to help a child that you know of that is considering self-harm or suicide. The first would be to get in contact with that child’s parents – although it is “a hard thing to do”. The second option would be to have “a no-holds-barred discussion with a school counsellor – make an appointment in confidence, and go and take your thoughts and care and concerns to that school counsellor”.

Ultimately, the only choice that will be able to help a child going through thoughts of self-harm or suicide is to provide them with the means to get better. From our standpoint as adults in our community, we need to teach our kids how to help themselves, and what to do if they have a friend who is thinking of hurting themselves. We need to provide them with better resources in schools, so that no matter which school a child attends, they have the tools they need to get better.

It takes a village to raise a child. Children in New Zealand are everyone’s concern. If we hope to build a brighter future for our kids in which they do not have to live in fear of bullies or consider hurting themselves, we must work collectively to make the world they grow up in a better place.

If you have any valuable insight to share, please reach out to us via our I’m Enough Website

You may also enjoy viewing the following video on How to be a Good Friend.  #HelloToKindness #ImEnough #StartTheConversation


If you think that any emergency is going to happen or someone is at risk of harming themselves or other people then just dial 111. However, if it is not an emergency, then there are several other helpline numbers that will get your friend in touch with people who are efficient in handling such situations with utmost care.   Emergency Lines.

Emergency and help lines


Anxiety phone line – 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)

Mental Health Crisis Helpline

Mental Health Crisis Helpline - 0800 800 717


Depression and anxiety affects us all differently.
Free 24/7 Helpline: 0800 111 757 Text 4202

Website Address

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland


Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat


Whatever you're going through, call us any time on 0800 726 666.

Website Address
Suicide Crisis Helpline

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds).
Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.


Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.

Sexuality or gender identity helpline

thelowdown.co.nz – Phone: 0800 111 757 or email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626

Website Address
Supporting Families in Mental Illness

Supporting Families in Mental Illness - 0800 732 825.

Mental health services – Ministry of Health

We all face challenges to our mental health at various times in our lives. The way we’re feeling can change how we think and how we deal with tough times.

There’s a range of resources and services available to help including phone and online services and information, as well as face-to-face support.

Most services are free and provide information and confidential advice from trained professionals. There's also information for family, whānau, or friends if they need advice and support.

If you’re told that there is a waiting time for a service, please still reach out and make contact. Other supports can be put in place – ask what you can try in the meantime.


Helplines for children and young people

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to talk to a trained counsellor.

To talk to a trained counsellor 24/7 call the Depression helpline – 0800 111 757.

To get help from a registered nurse 24/7 call Healthline – 0800 611 116.

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat.

What's Up  – 0800 942 8787, (for 5–18-year-olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, 1 pm–10 pm and on weekends, 3 pm–10 pm. Online chat is available from 7 pm–10 pm daily.

Website Address