When to Step In

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     This is a photo of my son, on a camping trip to Canada in 2012.  He is literally standing at the edge of a cliff.  Fathers and sons, they have a whole different idea of what IS dangerous, and what is not.  My husband was on the same rock, different spot.

     Mothers – they are pretty clear on what IS and typically don’t hesitate to grab their kid (or someone else’s?) from the edge of a cliff.

     So when my daughter came home on Friday and told me that she had a conversation with another 7th grade girl about cutting (and why this girl is doing it), I stepped in.  I very carefully asked my daughter how it came up; the details of the conversation; the tone the girl had been using; etc.  And then I called the guidance counselor.

     Now, you may be saying, “there are better ways to handle this.”  I could have my daughter convince her to go to the counselor; talk to her to figure out why she is cutting; etc.  But my 12-year-old is not equipped to suss out the reasons and help her.  She was very confused as to why someone would do this and then say that it helped her “feel better.”  Taking action on behalf of this girl was not only a way to take my child out of the equation, but to give the school an opportunity to help her.  And to show my own daughter that having a sense of community means not ignoring a child who needs help but doesn’t know how to get it. 

     Here is one article I found on teens and cutting behaviors:  http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/healthy_kids/When-teens-cut-themselves-.html

    Cutting can result from multiple sources:  as a sideline to OCD behaviors, because of abuse, because of teen angst run amuck, as a passively suicidal behavior. 

     To me, it’s more important to say, “what now?”  How can this child be helped?  What approach would be most effective?  How can that child be instilled with a sense of self-worth that may overwhelm their need to cut? 

     I don’t know what I would do if I found out that my own child was cutting; but hearing my daughter’s story, I knew her classmate needed help.  And the first, best intermediary is the school, not me. 

     So I don’t regret butting my nose in to someone else’s child’s business, especially when the school has better resources than I do, and it’s something that I would want someone else to do for my own children if any of them were in trouble – and I didn’t know it.  You can quote me on that. 

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