Monday, September 1, 2008
Blogs remind me of snapsnots, of short little conversations that I might hear on an elevator or in a waiting room. A lot of them are funny. I tend not to take blog reading or writing too seriously. But there are exceptions. My exception is the blog I wrote on cutting. It generated a few anonymous comments, and a lot of email from kids who cut and from kids who were trying not to cut.
Over the weekend, a teen told me there was to be a cutting party at a friend's house. One of my sons had been invited (he couldn't go because I did not know the parents and no one seemed to know if they would be home). She went on to say this wasn't the first cutting party she knew about.
Apparently, at a cutting party, you make a choice whether or not you want to participate. As I stood in the kitchen making snacks for the kids, I had to will myself to listen with an open mind. Here I was with multi grain organic chips and soda from the health food store trying not to notice the irony of my desire to keep them healthy and safe, and their desire to "experiment" -- I also know that not listening to teens, no matter how upsetting the story, only makes matters worse.
So you don't have to cut at a party like this. She said there's no pressure like that. The upsetting part is how accepted a behavior it is becoming: have something to eat, talk, cut, listen to music. I asked her if I had it right. She said I did. She also told me how a lot of girls had watched a BBC production of Princess Diana admitting to cutting her arms and legs. (But this behavior is also common in boys) I don't know whether that BBC taping normalized the behavior or not, but it's now making the myspace rounds.
I learned a lot from the teens who wrote to me about their experiences with cutting:
cutting is real, and cutting is spreading. And the behavior, even if it begins as an experiment, can quickly become a compulsion. The scariest aspect? The average age to begin cutting is currently between 9 and 10.