Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Young Kids Cutting

I just read this article on "cutting" and it is scary. I don't know of anyone who did this when I was in high school. Is this a new trend? It is referred to as an addiction in this story. That would mean the kids are getting some sort of pleasure from hurting themselves. Why is that? Maybe I should have taken psychology instead of journalism. What in the world would make someone hurt themselves over and over? My first guess is low self-esteem, but that is just an assumption.

According to the Mayo clinic, kids who self injure themselves most frequently target the arms, legs and front of the torso. Those areas can be easily reached and easily hidden under clothing. If you have a tween at home who has cuts, scrapes or bruises that never seem to heal, you might want to take a second look at why that's happening.

FROM NBC: They disfigure their own bodies as a way to cope with inner turmoil. Cutting, as it's called is an alarming trend among teens and young adults. Like many teens, Ashley Olson of Goddard kept a secret from her mother. "I felt the addiction 'cause once you start, you can't stop. It takes a lot." She wasn't taking drugs, she was cutting and had been for years.

"I was 13. I saw it on a tv show, and I thought,'if she can do it, why can't i? It made her feel better. Why couldn't it make me feel better?" And for a short time, it did. Ashley struggled with depression and low self-esteem brought on by years of being bullied at school. Using razors or even a piece of glass, she'd slash her own arm -- the physical pain of it somehow relieving her emotional pain.

Ashley Olson, 17 years old: "At first it was once a week. Then it got to be every day, couple hours a day. Anytime something bad happened, even if it was little." Until last fall, when Ashley's mother saw the cut on her wrist.

Lynn Olson, Ashley's mother: "It scared me very, very much, and the first thing I did was sought help." She took her daughter to prairie view and Dr. Mercedes Perales who's seen a growing number of Kansas kids cutting.
Dr. Mercedes Perales, psychiatrist:"Definitely we have seen more admissions to the hospital and also more patients coming in to the outpatient clinic because of self-injurious behavior." That includes biting, hair pulling, even cigarette burns-- all triggering the release of endorphins, like morphine to the body.

"Some of the people who cut themselves do have that sense of being high, but most of them describe a release of tension and a sense of calmness after that." She says most cutters are not trying to kill themselves, but their wounds can become more severe and risky over time. Parents need to watch for the warning signs.
Dr. Perales "Look for any type of material, like finding sharp objects in the room or a garment with blood."

Lynn Olson:"I think it's extremely important for parents to be involved in their kids' lives as much as they'll let them, and then sometimes even more when they don't want you there."
And like many cutters, Ashley used to hide her wounds by wearing long sleeve shirts and bracelets. The last time she cut herself was almost 3 months ago-- she's learned that when she feels the urge. "Find an outlet, like i do art. i have a friend who plays guitar. or work out. that helps." "Make a wish. Blow!"

Ashley now looks to the future-- going to art school and expressing her feelings in ways that don't leave a scar. If you suspect your child may be cutting, don't assume it's just a phase they're going through. doctors say it is addictive and can last into adulthood.

NewsAnchorMom Jen

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