Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Yesterday, my son went to a girl's birthday party and somehow, like always, they ended up back in our house. I'll call the birthday girl Casey. I had noticed marks on her arms and legs, strangely symmetrical lines that never seemed to heal. And as usual, when I asked my son about those marks later, he told me he was busy. (He was making a frozen pizza and texting the kids who had just left our house - when I pointed out to him that didn't qualify him as busy, he got the desperate look of a trapped animal).
So yes, he said, she's a cutter, only she's a real cutter and not a fake emo cutter.
Ahh, I said, that's...what on earth?
I know teenagers cut themselves. There's at least one YA book on it and it's being mentioned more and more in YA lit. I've heard the teenagers in my living room say sentences such as, "Oh, Josh, the kid who cuts?" Followed by, "Nah, he only cut when he was going out with so and so...he doesn't anymore." Cutting is mentioned in a lot of metal song lyrics. It's a strangely accepted habit.
Kids who cut say they do it because it makes them feel better, and this is true. Doctors say cutting releases endorphins which actually DOES make the kids feel better. It's a form of release.
But the problem I see, aside from the bizarreness of self mutilation, is that there are "fake" cutters (emo cutting for attention) and the more Goth type of cutting which the kids view as authentic and a little brave. How does anyone tell when the attention-getting cutting crosses the line? And why do parents not know more about this?
When I casually mentioned this once before, in front of Casey's step mom, she thought I was referring to cutting class. She said she had never heard of it and changed the subject.
That exchange explained a lot about Casey and probably about most teens who engage in this habit.
Just a note: If you want to leave a comment, it won't be seen unless you go to http://teenswhocut.blogspot.com/ This blog is dedicated to teen issues now since a few of these posts elicited such a strong response : )