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Why Do Children Cut & Self-Injure?

Learn about cutting and other self-injury in children from Dr. Kimberly Williams in this Howcast video.


Cutting behaviors and self-injurious behaviors are very concerning to parents. What we recognize is that cutting behaviors can be observed as a child taking a sharp object, such as a razor, paper clip, or a ballpoint pen, and making abrasions into their body. The cutting can be very subtle and superficial, or it can require emergency room attention. One of the myths of cutting behavior is that the child is trying to commit suicide. Most often, this is not the case, but what cutting behaviors are is an emotional reaction to something that the child really can't express. It's very distressing.

What we do need to know is that if you recognize that your child has been cutting, do not consider it a phase that the child is going to outgrow. Don't overreact. Don't respond to denial. Your child does need help about the situation. What you can do is be extremely supportive. Sit and talk with your child about some of the distresses that they've been feeling, and definitely seek help. You're not alone, cutting behaviors are on the rise. It's important that we share this information and you recognize that cutting behavior is something that can stop, and your child's issues can be addressed.

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