Pay Attention to Signs of Self-Harm in Children

By Luzader, Mark | Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current), July 16, 2013 | Go to article overview

Pay Attention to Signs of Self-Harm in Children


Luzader, Mark, Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)


Princess Diana, Johnny Depp and Russell Brand have more than celebrity in common. Each one also has acknowledged engaging in self-injurious behavior at some point in their lives. Self- injurious behavior or SIB is defined by Psychiatrist Armando R. Favazza as "a variety of behaviors in which an individual intentionally inflicts harm to his or her body for purposes not socially recognized or sanctioned and without suicidal intent."

Most commonly, this includes cutting into the skin of the arms or legs with any available sharp object to expect some sort of emotional relief.

All types of children are susceptible to engaging in SIB. Self- injurious behavior is a symptom of mental illness, which does not care how much money you make, how smart you are or what kind of music you like.

Recent studies consistently show 13 to 24 percent of high school students in the U.S. and Canada have harmed themselves, according to the Cornell Research Program on Selfinjurious Behavior.

Determining a more accurate number is difficult, because SIB typically occurs in private. Usually the child's closest friends are the first to know and parents are the last.

So what should parents be aware of if they suspect a child is engaging in SIB? Start by asking yourself these questions

How connected do I feel to my child?

Do I know what's going on in my child's personal and online worlds?

When home, does my child stay isolated from the rest of the family most of the time?

Do I see other telltale signs such as wearing long-sleeved shirts all year-round?

Does my family avoid or deal inappropriately with conflict?

Follow your gut as a parent. Most of the time, if you suspect something is wrong, it is. …

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