My 13 year old daughter has told me that there are kids in her class that are cutting themselves and that one child has attempted suicide.
It's very sad to think that they are experiencing so much stress in their lives that they view this as their best choice.
As a parent, what do you do with this information? Do you tell someone that the boy their daughter has just started dating is going cutting himgself? Do you approach the parents of the child? The principle? Or do you keep that information private?
I appreciate that my daughter is able to talk to us about what is happening at school and I don't want her to stop because we betrayed that trust, but I also am very concerned about the other kids who are involved and don't want a child to get seriously hurt because I stayed quiet about it.
I preface this by saying that I am not a parent and have been out of high school for 25 years. I know things are a lot different now. For instance, I was a fairly troubled teen (no cutting) and a teacher noticed how miserable I was and once that happened the administration was aware of it and I had a tremendous amount of support that did not involve my parents.
Back then, we did not have mandated reporters so if you told a teacher or counselor something in confidence you knew it would stay with them and they would not tell anyone if you would not agree to it. I probably would not have ever shared with anyone back then if I knew that they would tell my parents.
So, I'm not sure how the school would react in terms of deaing with the parents but my vote would be to talk to someone at the school rather than the parents. Since there is a definite possibility that the parents are part of the problem, the kid might end up worse off. At least with the school, there will be people who are trained to deal with this stuff on some level and one of them might be able to connect with this kid. And it can be up to the school to speak with the parents if they see anything to be concerned about.
The other thing to consider is that if you seak with the school, you can remain anonymous since it will just be a heads up to them to watch this kid and maybe reach out to him.
I guess if I were a parent I would be pisseed that another parent did not come to me directly but not all parents behave the same and are equiped to deal with the problem.
Agreed that you should call the guidance counsellor.
Whether it is anon or not, depending on what happens and how the school approaches it he may blame your daughter for tattleing (if she is the only one who knows he does this).
I would have a discussion with your daughter explaining that there are some situations where you have to tell someone. It is better to have a mad friend getting the help they need than for them to get seriously hurt.
I self-harmed all through highschool and college. I had friends that knew I did it but hid it from teachers and family. Now that I'm older I wish a teacher had noticed or a friend had said something. I waited until I was 26 to seek help for depression and anxiety. If I had started resolving the problems when they started I would probably be in a better position in life (and have a lot fewer scars).
He will probably be very angry about being found out but hopfully once he learns some healthier coping skills he will be appreciative.
As a parent, I would want to know. And I wouldn't care if you told me personally, dropped an anon note in my mailbox, or told the school and they called me. The important thing for me would be that my child received the help they so clearly needed.
That said, I don't believe for one second that this is true for all parents.
I think there are a lot of parents who really aren't cut out for the role of supporter, protector, and "trainer" of humans (trainer for lack of a better word - I consider my job as a parent to educate my children so that they will become responsible, independent adults). So for many, I suspect is is easier to avert their eyes than to have to deal with the problems of their offspring.
My suggestions would be to go the anonymous route through the school. Drop a guidance counselor a note, letting them know you heard a "rumor" and were concerned enough to ask them (the professionals, who one assumes have training on how to deal with these issues) to followup.
It's really about making sure the kid is safe. So, as a parent of two children, I'd appreciate it if you would follow up.
. . . I think there are a lot of parents who really aren't cut out for the role of supporter, protector, and "trainer" of humans (trainer for lack of a better word - I consider my job as a parent to educate my children so that they will become responsible, independent adults). So for many, I suspect is is easier to avert their eyes than to have to deal with the problems of their offspring. . .
I was troubled, shall we say, and it hasn't been till recently when my mother has been so ill and we have had frank (and uncensored by her) talks that I have found out that she couldn't relate at all to those issues.
Not because she didn't care but because her personality was so different - she got into fistfights at school. During her era fighting meant standing up for yourself and not being a coward. Even during my era fighting wasn't viewed as negatively as it is today.
As far as the OP goes, I have little faith in the school guidance system providing real support. I think it's a start but a kid who self harms is very unhappy and the roots of that can't always be explored at school.
When I was a freshman in high school, I had two friends who both cut and burned themselves. One friend got to the point where she almost needed to go to the ER she cut herself so badly. A couple of us confided in a teacher we trusted and knew our friend would feel comfortable with if approached by her. My friend was incredibly grateful we got the help she was unable to get for herself.
If you know of a teacher the students feel very comfortable with and trusting of, I would give them a call. If not, I would get in touch with the school guidance counselor.
I've been down this road with my daughters' friends. In one case when the girl was cutting and threatening suicide my daughter and a few friends went to the guidance counselor at the middle school and told her what was going on. The guidance counselor talked to the girl and her parents and the family got help.
My youngest just had a friend threaten suicide (7th grade). Told the girls she had gone as far as to put a noose around her neck. Since it was a Friday night I spoke with another parent who was friendlier with the mother and she called her and told what the daughter was threatening. She is now getting counseling.
In the second case it was difficult to get my daughter to tell me what was going on. She didn't want to betray her friend. However, since we have always had discussions about not keeping secrets where someone could be harmed she did finally tell.
I find it sad that there are so many instances of cutting in the middle/high schools. My girls all know people who have done it.
When I was in middle school, a girl showed me the scars on her wrist where she had been cutting herself. I told my mother about it first, and then told a teacher whom I trusted. The teacher got in touch with the guidance counselors. The girl in question never really talked to me again. I don't know how she is doing now, but I do know that she is at least alive.
Cutting is NOT the same as wanted to kill yourself, and it's not done for attention. I'd say the majority of cutters are not trying to kill themselves, or even having suicidal thoughts. Self-harming is used as a way to cope with life, and to live, not to kill yourself. Yes, some people that kill themselves were cutters. And it can eventually get to that point if the depression it that bad, but with a lot of kids/people, cutting does not lead to suicide/attempted.
In middle school/early high school I counted how many people I knew personally, including myself, that had in the past/were currently self harming, and it was over 10 people.
It's a really common problem, but there's a lot of shame associated with it. What's important is NOT saying "How could you ever do that to yourself!!?!?" or other things along that line, but honestly listening, and being non-confrontational.
It's a weird combination of feelings, you don't want anyone to find out, yet at the same time you desperatly wish for a friend to notice, just to ask how you're doing.
My best girlfriend of many years was a cutter in HS. Long story short, she had some major anxiety and depression issues. She did drugs. She tried to harm herself in every way BUT overtly committing suicide.
She is now a respected physician with a daughter, loving husband, and step daughter.
She got help.
My stepdaughters are 12 and 14. I have heard some stories about kids in their classes from them or in overhearing convos they're having with friends. Or via FB with regards to the 14 YO. On the one hand, I realize that kids sometimes exaggerate for attention. But if a kid is threatening suicide or just saying they're harming themselves, IMHO, it should be reported to the school.
If you're close with the parents, I'd go that route too. But in my limited experience, the kids who really ARE doing this stuff seem to have very turbulent home lives and I'm not sure calling their folks is the best bet.
If you don't think the school will get involved, you can always make an anonymous call to CPS or DHS or whatever organizations you have in your area.
All that said....the first few times I heard about this stuff from the girls we had very serious talks. Just with them. Asking how they felt about it, why they thought that information was correct (or not), what they thought THEY should do, etc.
I'm glad that they told us. But in more than one case, nothing was actually happening and I'm glad that we talked about it before Dad or I made phone calls.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
When my 17 year old daughter was in 8th grade (14 yrs old) she came to me and told me she had a "secret" and didn't know what to do. Her friend told her she had been cutting herself and made her promise not to tell. My daughter was terribly worried for her friend, felt like it was a bad secret, but also felt disloyal for wanting to share her burden. I'm glad she turned to me for help. I explained to her that it didn't make her a bad friend to tell me, she was actually helping her friend, some secrets must be shared if they mean the difference for someone's health and safety . I didn't know what to do, but daughter and other girl had been friends since second grade, I'd seen the mother many times at play dates and sleepovers, we'd chatted a bit here and there over the years. I knew it would be terribly awkward, but I also knew I would WANT someone to tell me if it were my child, so I bit the bullet and called her. The mother really shocked me, She was PISSED! AT ME?!! Said her daughter used to do that, but didn't do it anymore and that there was really no reason to call, she knew what was going on with her own daughter, thank you very much. I know this wasn't true, because the girl showed my daughter fresh cuts on her arms. I called the guidance counselor at school, she was not at liberty to discuss specifics, but said that she was aware there was a problem, that it was still going on, and commended my daughter for stepping forward to help her friend. Arranged a lunch group with the girl & her friends so they could talk out their stresses. Daughter and friend had no lasting repercussions from the incident, though they've drifted since my daughter switched schools. I just could not believe that any parent wouldn't appreciate that sort of information. Go figure.
"You can't blame other people. You can't always say what happened wasn't my fault. And you know what, even if you have an excuse, shut up."
Bruce Davidson, Sr.
Cutting is a way of dealing with the emotional pain by causing physical pain. My son was cutting and a counselor even told him where he was doing the cutting. That was an eye opener for both of us. I think he is better now but he lives on his own so I am not sure.
Letting the school know is a great way to get the ball rolling. You would be amazed at what the school knows and deals with. I know that varies with the school and system but 99% of people in the school truly care and try the best they can to help.