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Self-harming is an increasingly common problem among troubled teens. It can take a variety of forms, one of the more serious of which is "cutting", a form of self-mutilation in which people, mostly girls between the ages of 11  and 13, injure themselves with scissors, knives, razor blades or other sharp objects. It can also involve burning or hair pulling.

Cutting can be symptom of another psychiatric problem, such as anorexia or schizophrenia, and is often accompanied by alcohol or substance abuse. It is difficult to identify because sufferers cover their wounds, usually on the forearms, with long sleeves. In general, the goal of self-mutilation is injury, not death.

Self-injury is so hard to deal with because it so far outside many parent's experience. We don't hear that much about it. Still, it is a growing problem. If you suspect your child of cutting herself, you should examine her arms and legs for scars, and ask her directly if she has been harming herself.

For further information and more in-depth material concerning this and other problems your child may be facing, please contact a counselor at the BOYS TOWN HOTLINE.

www.boystown.org


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