Cutting: A Disturbing Trend Among Teenage Girls

Cutting in Teenage Girls

While it’s difficult for a parent to imagine their teenage girl cutting herself on purpose, this type of self-injury is becoming alarmingly popular, and not just among depressed girls. Even girls who appear happy and well-rounded are engaging in cutting! Understanding why girls engage in this behavior and knowing the signs can help parents put a stop to this dangerous, potentially life-threatening new trend.

Why do girls engage in cutting?

Although the trend isn’t limited to teenage girls, they do seem to be the most susceptible to cutting. While it’s impossible to know the motivation behind every cutter, psychologists do believe there are several main reasons that girls engage in this type of self-injury. These include:

  • Coping with emotional pain. Girls who suffer from extreme emotional pain often engage in cutting as a way to relieve the pressure. Basically, in their eyes, if they can hurt on the outside, maybe they won’t hurt so much on the inside.
  • A way to exert control. Teenagers have very little control over their environment. Parents fight or divorce, bullies attack them physically and emotionally, and people come or go from their lives. While many teens are able to roll with life’s challenges easily, or find alternative ways to let off steam, some girls engage in cutting as a way of exerting control. In their eyes, they can’t control what goes on around them, but they can control what they do to their bodies.
  • A symptom of a deeper psychological condition. Cutting is more common in girls suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
  • Attention-seeking. In some cases, cutting is a way to gain the much-needed attention from an authority figure. Girls who cut in obvious places may be crying out for help.
  • Peer pressure. If your daughter is spending time with other girls who cut, she may feel like she needs to engage in the behavior to keep up with her friends, even if she doesn’t have emotional issues or psychological conditions. Peer pressure is a very powerful influence on teen girls. In fact, Medical News Today reports that many teens who cut don’t have any underlying reason other than the fact that their friends said it feels good.

Signs that your daughter may be cutting

Aside from the obvious: cuts and scrapes on the skin, there are a few other signs that your child may be cutting.

  • Wearing long clothes, even in the summer. If your teen suddenly starts wearing long sleeves and pants, even in the warm weather, she may be engaging in cutting. This is one of the first signs that parents notice.
  • Frequent “accidents.” Many teens that cut claim that they fell down, the cat or dog scratched them, or some other type of accident occurred. If these accidents seem to be happening regularly, it’s time to sit down and talk.
  • Sharp objects kept in their room. Keep an eye out for knives, safety pins, and other sharp objects that can be used for cutting or scraping the skin.
  • Unexplained scars.

What to do if your daughter is cutting

If you discover or suspect that your daughter is cutting, seek immediate psychological help. This is not something that you can deal with on your own. Don’t assume it’s a phase, because even if it, that phase can have deadly consequences. Cutting can lead to disfigurement, infection, and excessive bleeding even to the point of death. Consult with your family doctor to find the best course of action the moment you discover the behavior.

13 thoughts on “Cutting: A Disturbing Trend Among Teenage Girls”

  1. Hello 🙂 i am a 13 year old girl and so I was just reading about this. There are 5 girls in my school who cut regularly and a know a boy who used to cut. 3 out of the 5 girls do it for attention and just want people to be concerned about them. My opinion is that if you cut on your wrists, you are cutting for attention, but if you hide your cuts you aren’t. Cutting is a serious problem in teenagers today and I don’t think very many people really realize it exists or how serious it really is. Thank you for this article and I hope many people read it so we can become more aware of this issue.

  2. Someone mentioned it above but I just wanted to chime in that I agree that ‘true” cutters aren’t suicidal in most cases. It’s a coping mechanism and there are as many reasons for “doing it” as you can imagine really. So many people think its just about attention and while I think its true that for some people they NEED attention that badly that they do it – that isn’t the case for most people. Instead its a way to get out anger, sadness or any other negative emotion. It can also be used as a tool to cause emotional numbness or to relieve emotional numbness. These are just a few of the reasons I know are common ones but I’m sure there are tons more. I also am a bit uneasy with saying that kids do it because their friends do. I graduated in 2009 and when I was in HS it did seem to happen in ‘groups’ of friends but I think that has SO much more to do with the fact that depressed or otherwise “struggling” teens tend to be friends with other kids who are similar to them and who are also having a tough time – and its the struggles that are the cause not peer pressure. I was in a group of “emo” kid friends in high school where it was common but never ever “cool” or something that we would have wanted other kids to do to “fit in” with us…I have a hard time thinking that would be a common reason for cutting.

  3. Thanks so much for bringing attention to such an important issue. It’s one of those things that we hate to imagine as moms, but need to pay close attention to.

  4. This is such an important topic and there’s so many people affected by it. When I was in high school, there was a girl that was a cutter and I felt so bad for her and the pain she must have been going through, physically and emotionally!

  5. Little miss Kate

    Thanks for talking about this important issue. It is something we need to get out in the open so people can get help

  6. This is an important issue! I know adults that struggle with the same thing. They hide their scars in shame with long sleeves.

  7. Wow. Thanks for posting this! It’s something all parents should be aware of. Eeeek. The thought just makes me cringe. I have a friend who was a cutter. It was always so hard to know she was doing that. Thanks for the signs and tips.

  8. When I was a teenages, some 12 years ago. I was a cutter. It is a definate disease for some people. When I did I knew that I just had to feel something that was real. Either way, my parents never did seek “help” for me but I did stop before I graduated. Sometimes I still think that doing it again would be a good idea but I know better.

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