Cutting is a form of self injury where small cuts are made typically on the body arms and/or legs. Cutting is a way for teens to release emotional pain. The practice of cutting has been happening in secret for ages, but more recently has come to light as it has been shown in movies, TV shows and online. Teens and tweens, who are often unaware of other ways to release intense emotions, turn to the internet for answers and come across information on cutting. They are also learning from peers. The majority of my clients report knowing someone who cuts.
The topic of cutting was recently discussed on the Today Show and it was highlighted that teens who are feeling immense “pressure to be perfect” are turning to cutting as an answer. The segment reported that “a Seventeen magazine poll shows that 15% of teens physically hurt themselves on purpose.” They are highlighting that this is a common problem and parents need to understand the signs and symptoms of these self destructive behaviors.
What to look for:
- Changes in attitude, friends, interest in activities and day to day behaviors. Teens who are not handling the day to day stress of their lives are vulnerable to releasing their emotions through cutting.
- Need to always be covered up. If you see that your child is wearing long sleeves, long pants and this does not match with the season, this may be reason to be concerned.
- Unexplainable cuts or scratches. Often teens will use whatever they can get their hands on to cut so cuts may be superficial. Question your child on how they got the scratches or cuts and trust your intuition.
- Negative self talk. If your teen is constantly talking about themselves in a negative way with you or others.