Schools learning to address rising student self-injury
August 10, 2015
"Schools around the country have begun offering new classes and mental-health programs to help stem a sharp rise in the number of adolescents found to be engaging in self injury, especially cutting," begins a recent Wall Street Journal article. The piece goes on to outline the use of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in schools across the country to offer kids other tools to deal with overwhelming emotions.
Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery, was a resource for the "Teen Cutting: Myths & Facts" sidebar on the article:
Myth: Cutting is a kind of suicide attempt.
Fact: Cutting usually isn’t intended to be life-ending. It is a coping mechanism used by young people who are stressed, overwhelmed or in emotional pain. It helps them manage their emotions and feel temporary relief.
Myth: Self-injury is something girls do, not boys.
Fact: Therapists and school officials often see more self-injuring girls than boys, but it may be that girls are more willing to ask for help. In many research samples of self-injuring people, there is a small, or no, difference in the proportion of males versus females. Girls are more likely to cut; boys are more likely to hit or burn.
Myth: Self-harm is a problem among teens but not younger children.
Fact: In a sample of 665 youth surveyed for a 2012 paper in Pediatrics, 7.6% of third graders, 4% of sixth graders, and 12.7% of ninth graders reported engaging in non-suicidal self-injury. Self-harming behaviors included cutting, hitting and scratching.
Myth: Self-injury is a problem among social misfits and struggling students.
Fact: People who self-harm include excellent students and those who struggle; youth who have a hard time fitting in, as well as leaders with a wide circle of friends; and those from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Myth: People who cut are looking for attention.
Fact: Most people who do it say cutting, while painful, makes them feel relief temporarily. Young people often do it secretly: In one study, nearly a quarter of adolescents who reported self-injuring said they were sure nobody knew or suspected. Some say the physical pain distracts them from emotional pain, or that it makes them feel more alive.
Schools face the teen cutting problem - Wall Street Journal