Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Elizabeth Jones (Director), Dr. Lakeisha Meyer, Dr. Carl Myers

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Specialist in Education


Self-injury (SI) is a growing concern for professionals working in educational settings who desire more information on SI and express a lack of confidence in working with youth who self injure (Carlson, DeGreer, Deur, & Fenton, 2005; Heath, Toste, & Beettam, 2008).

A sample of 263 teachers from a small, rural Kentucky county completed a survey (response rate of 45.5%) designed to address educators’ knowledge of SI, training needs, and knowledge of school response plans for working with youth who self-injure.

A 20-item measure developed by Jeffery and Warm (2002) assessed SI knowledge. Educators evidenced significantly lower scores on the knowledge measure than school psychologists (Beld, 2007), and professionals working in a medical setting (Jeffrey & Warm, 2002) with the exception of psychiatrists. Analysis of the response patterns of the educators on the knowledge measure indicated 11 out of 20 items evidenced serious inaccurate understandings of basic fact and myths, prevalence, relationship of SI to psychopathology and suicide, and media influences.

There were no gender differences when comparing self-rated knowledge of SI; however, female educators evidenced greater mean scores on the knowledge measure. Females evidence significantly greater knowledge of SI than males. There is no relation between knowledge of SI and the amount of experience working with youth who self-injure for this sample. Knowledge of SI and amount of experience working with students who SI was not correlated. Further, educators who report knowledge of school plans did not report higher confidence in helping students.

Descriptive information regarding knowledge of SI and school response plans, confidence, and training indicate the majority of educators in this sample do not have any experience working with youth who self-injure. Further, most lacked knowledge of a school response plan and did not know the existence of or steps included in the district’s school response plan. A majority of participants indicated never attending in-service training on SI; however, they did indicate an interest in receiving more information on SI.

Results support the need for districts to educate staff on school response plans and/or to develop a specific school response plan for dealing with youth who engage in SI. Also supported are training needs regarding the school plan, basic knowledge of SI, and extended areas of SI such as media and suicide. Lastly, follows the discussion of practical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research in relation to results.


Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology