As parents we educate our children/teens about drugs and alcohol citing the addictive nightmares this can have on their lives. But, are you aware that cutting oneself, eating disorders, porn, anxiety, virtual gaming, shopping and gambling can also be addictive and have similar results?
Cutting or self-injurious behavior is when a teen uses an object to cut on the skin in an attempt to draw blood. There are many reasons why they may engage in this ritual. They may feel hopeless, depressed or anxious. Bullying, attention-seeking, wanting to punish someone or joining a peer group are also some of the reasons why cutting may start.
There are chat rooms which encourage kids to cut. They explain in detail where to cut, the best instrument to use, the angle so as to not go too deep and how to get more blood to come out. The problem here is that once a teen begins to cut as a form of emotional release or to numb out, it can become habit forming.
Developmentally, your teen is trying to figure out who they are and are leaning on their peer group more than you. This is normal for them. What is NOT normal is a group of friends that encourage cutting or other forms of self-injury.
I encourage you to get to now your child’s friends. Be supportive and willing to talk about what is bothering them. Watch your teen for signs of depression, anxiety, or cuts that can not be explained. If you discover that your teen is cutting, take it seriously. Many times the cutting becomes deeper resulting in an injury that may be life-threatening.
In all ways stay connected.