The New Youth Craze: Self-Mutilation

Have you heard of "cutting?" If you`re a
parent, you`d better read up. "Cutting" refers to
self-mutilation—using knives, razor blades, or even
safety pins to deliberately harm one`s own body—and it`s
spreading to a school near you.


Angelina Jolie
and Christina Ricci did it. So did
Courtney Love
and the late Princess Diana. On the
Internet, there are scores of websites (with titles such
as "Blood Red," "Razor Blade Kisses," and "The Cutting
World") featuring

"famous self-injurers,"
photos of teenagers`
self-inflicted wounds, and descriptions of their
techniques. The destructive practice has been depicted
in films targeting young girls and teens (such as

). There is even a new genre of music—"emo"—associated
with promoting the cutting culture.

In Britain, health care researchers estimate that one
in ten teenagers engages in

addictive self injury.
According to psychiatrist
Gary Litovitz, medical director of Dominion Hospital in
Falls Church, Va., the growing trend here in America has
alarmed school guidance counselors around the country. [A
Cry For Help What Parents of Teens Need to Know About
February 2005]

It`s not just delinquents and social misfits who are
doing it. A concerned parent sent me the following
letter recently:

"I just found out this
week that my 14-year-old daughter is a `cutter.` She has
a 4.0 average, 8th grade, goes to a good school, and is
well-liked by all who know her. She is popular, has 2
homes (mine and her dad`s) with supportive loving
families in each. Her own friends cut, too: 4 of them
that I know of now between the ages of 11 and 14…[a]s do
her 2 cousins, ages 11 and 15.

"My daughter cuts herself with a safety pin. I found
this out on her own personal website which I discovered
she had been hiding on a hidden account she used at
another relative`s home. She had links to webrings about
cutting, suicide and broken hearts as well as images and
poetry. Her friends all feature cutting/suicide links,
icons and song lyrics as well.

"The counselor at her
school told me this: At her middle school, `70% of the
kids here cut or know someone who does. It`s cool, a
trend, and acceptable. Boys do it as well but are more
public about it…. you`re not even the first parent
this week: you`re the 3rd and just today a girl received
stitches in the hospital for cutting herself so bad.`"

While many public schools deny the problem exists,
public health advocacy groups are warning medical
professionals of the cutting craze—and have even
declared March 1st

"Self Injury Awareness Day."

This madness would not be as popular as it is among
young people if not for the glamorizing endorsement of
nitwit celebrities such as twentysomething actress
Christina Ricci. Several of the websites I researched
highlighted the

same quotes
from Ricci describing her experiences
with self-injury:

In an US Magazine interview, for example,
Ricci blabbed about various scars on her hands and arms:
"I wanted to see if I can handle pain. It`s sort of
an experiment to see if I can handle pain."
another interview, she described putting cigarettes out
on her arm and answered questions about whether it hurt:
"No. You get this endorphin rush. You can actually
faint from pain. It takes a second, a little sting, and
then it`s like you really don`t feel anything. It`s
calming actually."

And in Rolling Stone, Ricci

about scratching her forearms with her
nails and soda can tops: "It`s like having a drink.
But it`s quicker. You know how your brain shuts down
from pain? The pain would be so bad, it would force my
body to slow down, and I wouldn`t be as anxious. It made
me calm."

It may be all fun and games for a Hollywood starlet
like Ricci, but her mindless stunts have inspired
countless young girls to carve themselves into a bloody

strikes again.

Michelle Malkin [email
her] is author of

Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists,
Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores

for Peter Brimelow`s review. Click

for Michelle Malkin`s website.