School Gives Special Needs Student Razor Blades, Lets Them Self-Harm Under Teacher Supervision

Officials at a special needs school in the South East England town Godalming are facing disciplinary action after it was revealed that a student was intentionally allowed to inflict harm upon themselves using razor blades handed to them by the school.

The so-called "controlled self-harm" policy was instituted at Unsted Park School for a brief period of time in January of last year, causing an uproar among staffers at the specialist education facility for children and teens with Asperger's and other forms of higher-functioning autism.

The unnamed student's mother was also allegedly involved in designing the policy, which involved providing the pupil with access to sterilized Bic safety razor blades, and escorting them to the bathroom, where they were permitted to cut themselves while teachers waited outside.

Their wounds were then cleaned and dressed by staff members.

"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," said a spokeswoman for the Prior Group, the school's operator. "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."

The local police said it was aware of the policy, but after the practice concluded it was determined that there were "no criminal offences to investigate," and the case was closed.

The Department of Education, however, has released a statement calling the experiment "deeply worrying," and noting that the matter had been handed over to the Teaching Agency for review.

It's unclear, however, what will come of the investigation, as a recent governmental inspection of the school yielded a report praising the school for putting in place "robust risk assessments and health and safety processes which protect young people from harm."

[photos via Geograph/Shazz, Shutterstock]