Welcome to my adventure. This blog started out focused on parenting and school but now that Katie's nearly baked, it's way more about me these days. My experiences, more likely my point of view and good times to share.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Relieving the Pain: When 11-Year Olds Start Cutting

Katie's home room teacher rocks. She not only teaching language arts, but she also brings in lots of life lessons - from drinking to college admissions to cutting. Yep, she brought it up in class and it was the first time Katie had ever heard of it.

Turns out, there's a cutter in her class.

We have known the girl who is cutting for years. We don't know her well, but she's been part of our local community and we used to do swim lessons together when the girls were about five years old. Things were so simple back then.

But roll the clock forward six years and life has become more complex. The kids started noticing scars and some cuts a few weeks ago. Since her teacher pointed out what it might look like, Katie was pretty sure of what she was seeing early on. It really worried her.

In our house we talk a lot about feelings and motivations regarding behavior. So Katie was quick to think about what might be bothering her friend so much that she would need to cut herself as a way to deal with it. We did a little Googling.

We found a great article on a teen site that is written very well for a teen reader. It's called Teens Health and the article goes through the what, why and how to get help. They provide a tidy definition of cutting:

Injuring yourself on purpose by making scratches or cuts on your body with a sharp object — enough to break the skin and make it bleed — is called cutting. Cutting is a type of self-injury, or SI. Most people who cut are girls, but guys self-injure, too. People who cut usually start cutting in their young teens. Some continue to cut into adulthood. (Read more here.)

This week, the cuts on Katie's classmate's arm were much more noticeable. I was encouraged to hear my daughter took action and told her language arts teacher what she saw. And the next day, Katie went right to the source, her friend, and asked her why she was hurting herself. Her friend was angry at Katie for interfering but Katie didn't care. She wanted her to know she was keeping an eye on her.

Apparently yet another student is helping Katie's friend escalate. While the parents scramble to hide sharps and throw away the wart remover (she used to scar herself in the shape of a heart), this other student is showing her how to hide her cuts and use other objects.

The whole thing is really scary.

I am glad to know the kids are coming together around this issue and want to help their classmate. I am so glad Katie's teacher is talking about the hard things so the kids aren't caught off guard and can actually be part of the solution. I am hoping some positive peer pressure (along with her parents' great efforts) will help turn this situation around.

It seems like eleven years old is so young for all this stuff. But then I guess pain knows no age.


  1. This breaks my heart that an 11 year old is in so much pain that she would hurt herself. My daughter just turned 10 and I'm having a hard time imagining this happening among her classmates, but I'm sure you wouldn't have thought it likely either. Kudos to Katie for talking to trusted adults about it, and for talking to her friend. It's so easy to turn the other way. Sounds like you're offering her great support for doing the right thing.

  2. Hey Nedra - it all changes so fast. I didn't realize we had daughters so close in age! I knew the subject matter would move to PG-13 in Junior High (thank goodness not R yet) but some of the things that are coming up are truly surprising. I have an old soul kid - thank goodness - but I am sure she'll have her own drama at some point. My best to you!