Suitability: Key Stage Two, Key Stage Three
Out of Harm’s Way tells the story of Cotty, who responds to stress in her life by self-harming, before accessing support through school support staff to achieve safer, more effective and more lasting solutions.
Cotty has just moved school, and feels out of her depth and left out. She becomes a target for playground teasing. Cotty is scared of her dad’s temper and his aggressive controlling behaviour, but is also scared that her parents are going to split up. She feels angry and releases her frustration through attention-seeking in class, under-performance, truancy and other self-harming behaviour. She does not want to talk about her problems at home, because she fears this might make things worse for her mum. Cotty is spiralling into ever more dangerous strategies to provide the illusion of control before a friend helps her to get help from the school nurse, who suggests alternative ways of dealing with her feelings, with stress and of addressing the real problems affecting her and her family.
Out of Harm’s Way is concerned with how children and young people faced by distressing, frightening or threatening situations and events can sometimes respond in ways which damage themselves. Such self-harming strategies may give an illusion of control and action, but do nothing to affect real and constructive change. The project aims to help children understand that stress and frustration are experiences common to everyone, but that response strategies which place their well-being or development at risk in any way can have serious consequences. The project will direct students towards more effective strategies which can help them understand and evaluate problems, discuss feelings and access appropriate support resources.