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Dear Amy,

Self-mutilation is a problem that more and more women and girls are having to deal with. While most women do not self-injure, chances are they know someone who does. By 'self-injure' I mean cutting/burning/breaking bones/bruising... in my mind eating disorders, while certainly a form of self-injury, are a separate entity from these. Could you enlighten me about this largely female problem? I realize it's a broad topic with lots of psychological ins-and-outs, but anything you could do would be REALLY appreciated.



Dear Anna,

I have given two speeches this week alone where I have been asked about the prevalence of self-mutilation among teens. Both times the question was raised by teens themselves, and clearly they were asking on behalf of their classmates. The easy answer is that these teens are looking for attention. It's just a fact of reality that teens today with two working parents, with overcrowded schools, with the pressure to be adults and victims all at once, get less attention. In many ways, this is why kids also have eating disorders.

I think the answer is to provide more outlets for kids to talk with each other and with adults. As much as we want to blame ads and Hollywood for the prevalence eating disorders, a greater problem is how we measure ourselves against our peers and this is what needs to be exposed and explored. There is a site called iemily.com which has some information about this, plus most sites devoted to teens. I hope that helps - and let me know if you want me to suggest more resources.


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