Self-Harm Showing Up in Elementary Schools
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2012 Jun 12
When young people purposely hurt themselves it's disturbing at any age, but a new study suggests that kids in elementary school cut and otherwise injure themselves at about the same rate as older children.
"One of our main messages is: This happens earlier than you think. And then it's: How are kids at different ages doing this and what do you need to look for?" said study author Benjamin Hankin, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Denver.
Appearing the journal Pediatrics, the study included youths aged 7 to 16 from the Denver area and central New Jersey.
Of the 665 participants, 53 children (8 percent) in third, sixth and ninth grades admitted to doing what's known as "nonsuicidal self-injury" at least once. Among third graders, 7.6 percent had intentionally hurt themselves, compared to 4 percent of sixth graders and 12.7 percent of ninth graders.
Cutting, burning and head banging are self-injury methods, along with inserting sharp objects into skin or nails, skin picking, biting, or pulling hair to cause pain. "The older adolescents in our study -- basically ninth graders -- were engaging in cutting and burning," Hankin said. "The boys, and especially the younger kids, were actually doing more head banging."
"The older adolescents in our study -- basically ninth graders -- were engaging in cutting and burning," Hankin said. "The boys, and especially the younger kids, were actually doing more head banging."
"Of those who engaged in nonsuicidal self-injury -- about a third of them did it once and didn't do it again," Hankin said. "Of course that means the rest of them, 66 percent, go on and repeat."