• Otis Doesn't Scratch. Talking to young children about self-injury

Otis Doesn't Scratch. Talking to young children about self-injury

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ISBN 978 1 906254 56 8
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Should we talk to children about self-injury? Yes we should. 'Otis Doesn't Scratch' is a two-part resource to help young children understand why others self-harm. Children, like adults, often live in difficult circumstances, but with the right support they can make helpful sense of what’s happening. If Mum has cancer or a brother has special needs there are ample resources to help adults talk to young children about what’s going on. But what if someone close to a young child self-harms? Actively helping children understand why people self-injure may mean they don’t fill in the gaps for themselves — ‘someone is hurting my sister’; ‘dad is going to die’.

With over 200, 000 hospital admissions recorded annually, current figures suggest that around one in ten people self-injure through self-directed actions like cutting, burning or overdosing.

Clare Shaw (author) and Tamsin Walker (illustrator), the creators of Otis Doesn’t Scratch, have produced a poignant, troubling, but ultimately reassuring picture-book resource for children aged 4-9. The accompanying guide will help adults support children coming to terms with the complex issue of self-harm.

A ground-breaking, invaluable resource for children and their carers.

Hear Clare Shaw talk about self-injury awareness here

Otis Doesn't Scratch is a two part resource:

Storybook for children: When Ted notices his mother's injuries, her explanations leave him unconvinced. Scared and confused, he sets out to find the answers for himself, with some help along the way.

Guide for adults: The guide accompanies the children's storybook. Together they comprise a resource designed to help adults looking for a safe and helpful way to talk with a young child about a parent, guardian or close family member who self-injures.

Otis Doesn't Scratch is a great little book that will help readers, young and old, make sense of a very difficult subject. The storybook is written and drawn with warmth and sensitivity, and the accompanying guide is packed full of information and personal experience. Dr Sam Warner, consultant clinical psychologist

Otis Doesn't Scratch addresses self-harm and its effects through the eyes of a young boy, worried about his mother. The result is thought-provoking and touching. A valuable – and comforting –resource for parents, teachers, children and anyone affected by similar issues. I found it very moving. Ros Asquith, Children's author and cartoonist

The strength of the publication lies in its simplicity; the guide would be accessible to any reader and seeks to conquer in a sensitive and caring way the 'confusion, negativity and fear that surround self-injury' –Janet Edwards, MBACP (Accred), Counsellor and supervisor working in private practice. Reviewed in BACP Children & Young People/March 2016

Clare Shaw

With a wealth of personal experience of self-harm, Clare Shaw  is one of the UK's most prominent and authoritative voices on this issue. She is also 'one of Britain's most powerful and dynamic young poets' (Arvon Foundation); widely published and anthologised, and with two collections published by Bloodaxe. She lives in West Yorkshire with three cats — and one daughter. For more information about Clare's work visit http://www.clareshaw.co.uk


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Clare Shaw

Tamsin Walker (Illustrator)

Tamsin has considerable personal and professional experience of self-harm and currently works for a Mental Health Charity in Calderdale, West Yorkshire. Her job often involves working with children and young people and raising awareness about mental health and wellbeing. Tamsin is the author of and illustrator of Not Ready Yet (Onlywomen Press 2009). She lives with her partner and son. 

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Tamsin Walker (Illustrator)