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A dangerous trend among kids: ‘The Cutting Challenge’ on social media

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BELLINGHAM  --  A dangerous trend has parents on edge and kids at risk.

“When I cut myself, it hurt really bad. And since I was using safety scissors it took a while to do it,” says Jessika Phillips.

The 17-year-old says she was pressured by classmates to cut her own forearm when she was in middle school.

“They cut themselves, take pictures, show their friends, post it on Facebook,” says Phillips.

Jessika says it's known as “the cutting challenge” and kids are taking to social media to post and boast.

One very concerned Bellingham mother wrote "… please talk to your children about the dangers of this game…".

“These fads come and go so quickly that sometimes, we, as parents, don't notice it,” says Jessika’s mom, Crystal.

Crystal is hoping by speaking out, parents will take the time to talk to their kids.

“In the last five years, we've seen a real increase in cutting,” says child psychologist Gregory Jantz.

Experts say cutting is a trend that's happening all over and it's not just about dealing with emotions or stress and anxiety as we've seen in the past.

“It also is a symbol of belonging. A cutter usually knows other kids who are cutters and they belong in this group. So there’s a sense of identity with that as well,” says Jantz.

The risks of infection and scarring aside, Jessika hopes other kids understand, it's just not worth it.

“Honestly I just think it’s a stupid new trend that middle schoolers are doing,” says Jessika.

We also reached out to the Bellingham school district.  They say: "Safety is always our first priority. If we suspect a student is involved in any kind of harmful activity toward others or themselves, our staff works closely with the student and notifies his or her family for additional support."

If you believe your child may be cutting, Jantz recommends you seek medical advice immediately.

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40 comments

  • jk

    Thanks for raising awareness we’ve found out its a popular thing in middle school. Sad that kids can be pressured into something that has more meaning to others that have serious meaning to it. Problem with social media kids get exposed to so much they aren’t ready for. Hope parents can pay attention and talk about it with their kids.

    • Seth

      What most people seem to think is going on is that people get pressured into it, when in reality it just sorta happen, when you’ve hit rock bottom cutting can give you an adrenaline rush which is like a natural high. Your generation did drugs and part of our generation uses cutting as an escape

  • Gina

    My daughter goes to Shuksan Middle School. There had been a culture there if “who has it worse”.
    According to the staff kids will stay talking about something bad that happened to them. Then the next one will to them off.
    For example: my dad won’t let me dye my hair.
    2: well my mom screamed at me because I cut my own hair.
    3: if my mom finds out I cut my hair, she’ll beat me.
    1: well my dad beat me the other day because I asked to dye my hair.
    3: my dad locked me in my room the whole weekend because I didn’t do my homework.
    2: well my mom tied me to my bed. I had to pee my pants!

    This is an example of texts my daughter was sending and receiving.

    According to parents I’ve talked to and staff, this is the culture in our small town!
    Which, as the mom said in this video, is very dangerous for those who really are in trouble because they will be overlooked!

  • Gina

    What was said in this video was that kids doing this challenge put “emotional cutters” (forgive me, is the best way I can describe it) at a greater risk because now they will be over looked.

  • dg54321

    *rolls eyes*
    Just when I think youth these days can’t get any dumber, I’m proven wrong.
    Why can’t we let the stupid ones just kill themselves off and save us a lot of time and trouble in the future?

    • Baylee Dunn

      These children have no idea what they are getting into. The risk of addiction..keloid scars…infection. Seriously it could take a lot to quit. A high percentage of kids who cut emotionally take it to their adult years. I used to, and people who think it’s some kind of game are absolutely idiodic. Cutting is no game. Self harm is no game. Binging, purging, starving, it’s all the same. Kids are far too bored with life. Trigger-happys could be cutting themself’s just because of this video, pictures on the net, or seeing them everywhere. Welcome to the nightmare.

    • anonymous

      Seriously. How thick can you get?
      “Let the stupid ones kill themselves” reality check. THEY ARE PEOPLE. WITH FEELINGS! If you think that we should kill them on your head be it. You are one of them. You insensitive idiotic bastard. If you feel thay way then iwish sgusted to be in this world. I wish you the best in your sad pathetic life.

  • Cheryl

    I would not let my kid do Facebook. Instead find other things to do. As far as cutting goes, usually is an emotional issue that needs to be addressed. Some kind of stress but what a way to deal with it. Is everyone enticed by FB, I cannot for the life of me wonder why except for those that have really something to talk about like helping someone find a loved one, etc. that could be helpful. JK and Gina I agree with you.

  • Bailey

    Cutting is and has been a serious issue for years, kids do this because of emotional problems they have going on in their lives, and they need to try and find a way out from all those emotional things going on in life. When kids that have a SERIOUS problem with cutting and they see images like the one posted, they get triggered. It pisses me off that this is apparently a “challenge”. Cutting is not something I take lightly and these dumb kids that are doing this because it’s a so called a “challenge” need to learn that, NOW. Parents step it up and watch your kids closely, I beg of you.

  • CC

    One person does not make a “trend,” kids can be stupid but not this stupid, clearly just fear mongering to freak out some parents.

  • Samantha

    First there was the Ice Bucket Challenge.
    Then there was the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge.
    Then the Light Yourself in fire Challenge.
    Now it’s the cutting challenge….
    What next? The “Skin yourself alive” challenge?

    • Ohina

      While I do believe this challenge that they’ve created here is complete and pure idiocy, I do hope you know that the ice bucket challenge was not made for something stupid like the other challenges you’ve listed. The ice bucket challenge was to raise awareness for ALS which, I believe was a good thing.

  • Latimer

    I’m not surprised at all really- with economic strives increasing and mental health concerns being ignored by county officials across the nation towards our education system although consider this horrible to say- be grateful that it isn’t worse. Studies from many universities are arguing that children and teens get alot of there mental health problems from school responsibilities- 40% feel irritable or angry, 36% feel nervous or anxious, 31% felt overwhelmed due to stress in the past month 36% feel fatigued or tired, and almost 30% feel depressed or sad (source: http://childrensmd.org/). Harvard also brought out a study showing that mental health patients in clinics are sometimes even in ‘better conditions’ than students are.

    It’s fine to acknowledge actions like this as dumb- but don’t put the reasoning in place of it. It’s correlation stems from life being counter productive for alot of these younger teens in many ways.

    • Cassandra

      No. Most people don’t. They do it to make themselves distracted or to relieve the emotional/mental pain. I was terrified when my sister saw the scars on my wrist and I wished she never found out. I never wanted anyone to find out. I didn’t do it for attention. I did it for relief.

  • Zack

    How gullible and easily persuaded you commenters are. Bravo! Bravo! How many of you actually suffer from clinical depression? Please, understand that my sarcasm is not intended to undermine anyone’s intelligence, but rather to exploit ignorance amongst this topic.

  • Zack

    How gullible and easily persuaded you commenters are. Bravo! Bravo! How many of you actually suffer from clinical depression? Please, understand that my sarcasm is not intended to undermine anyone’s intelligence, but rather to exploit ignorance amongst this topic

  • Zack

    “Hello Merica” and “Andrew” God bless your opinion in which “kids are stupid”. Knowing that you were both kids at one point almost makes me believe this! You know what I would do if I journalized for Fox News? I would write an article that states all adults shall kill themselves, so I would not have to read idiotic post from gullible individuals as yourselves. You’re gullibility is what feeds entertainment, and media in general. Lastly but not least, you’re both fucking idiots. Bravo!;)

  • Katey

    I really hope this isn’t real, because if it is it’s absolutely..I can’t even find the right words. This is horrendous. This is sickening. This is absolutely fucking horrible. Not to mention extremely dangerous. I’m honestly so pissed off. This is mocking all the people who actually suffer from self harm. Self harm is not cool, it’s not popular, it’s a horrible, horrible thing to have to suffer from and deal with. It’s an addiction. It’s not a “challenge”. it’s not a game. I seriously can’t even deal with this right now. Wow. This society. I honestly just can’t.

  • Disgusted

    Wow… just let them kill themselves off!# what is wrong with you!!! REALLY… I hope your parents are real proud that they had such a small minded, heartless kid, either that or just so stupid that you don’t know any better..

  • Anonymous

    There are so many things going horribly wrong with today’s youth. And there are many reasons why I’m going to list a few: everyday I see kids doing these things (under 18):

    Cutting
    Drinking
    Drugs (not just mj)
    Sex/sexting (even under 13 yrs)
    Getting pregnant before turning 16
    Sending nudes to full grown adults.
    Dressing like prostitutes
    Spewing self-hate as well as shaming others for their opinions and appearances
    Bullying specifically special needs kids
    (Did you know kids use the word autistic as a placeholder for stupid now… )
    They don’t have a real sense of community or desire to help one another-it’s a king of the hill fight their whole lives now.
    Girls think it’s fine for boys to have multiple partners (as long as they’re the ‘main chick’ and not the ‘side chick’, but they themselves are sluts if they aren’t faithful)
    Parents refuse to discipline AT ALL (you don’t have to hit them but don’t let them do whatever they want…)
    Kids are allowed to swear more.
    People are lowering state standards… Because the tests are “too hard”. No their not. I passed them, my parents (both dropouts) passed them. You passed them. Your parents passed them. So why can’t our kids? What’s going on in the classroom?? What’s going on at home????????
    Have you taught your children how to speak to adults and respect their teacher?? Have you taught them anything?? Or have they taught themselves that they can do as they please??? Seriously it’s a huge problem. I’m not saying corporal punishment is good/bad… I’m just saying it worked on everyone I know. And if another 5 yr old every tells me he wants to “f***kn eat my p***y”…..(really happened-group of young children as I was just walking by) then I WILL hold the parents responsible… And it will be really tempting to ‘discipline’ him or her myself.

    Moral of rant: please watch your kids. Especially online/phone, and actually care about how they’ll turn out.

  • Cassandra

    As someone who has self harmed before, I take this very offensively. Cutting is not a game. Cutting is not something to be proud of that you should show off to people. Cutting is something that some people, including myself, sadly resource to because they feel like they have no other escape or no other way to make it better, and the fact that kids have make a game or challenge out of it is disgusting and offends me a lot.

  • Rae

    What the hell is wrong with people. As a 16 year old who suffers with anxiety, a personality disorder and transgenderness I used self harm for a number of years to cope with my situation and how I was feeling because I had nobody to express myself to. I now have scars I truly regret because I can’t wear shorts or anything that is shorter than ankle length for fear they’ll be seen… And teenagers are /mocking/ the struggles of people like me who have no other way of coping. I remember when it only used to be ‘the freaky emo kid’ who cut themselves and now it’s a fucking fashion trend? What the fuck is wrong with our youth! I always made sure to clean and bandage my injuries but I doubt half these kids do. I doubt they even care of the risk of infection or some of the awful diseases they could catch!

    If you know anyone who has or does do this or you are a parent of something who has done this. Tell them from me how bad it is when they’re older and all they hear is ‘fucking emo kid’ ‘slit your wrists properly next time’ or ‘how’d you get those’ or ‘oh did the ‘cat scratch you’ again’… Because it’s awful.

  • Airelle

    I personally am a self injured. I will always classify myself as one although I do not use self-injury as a coping skill anymore. i live in Texas, and it’s hot. I wear tank tops and shorts in spite of the obvious scarring on my body. Although it isn’t always easy for me. I face humiliation, embarrassment, side looks, rude comments and much more unimaginable comments from complete strangers. I wish every single day that I never started. I wish I would have had the coping skills at the age of 9 years old that I have learned now at 23. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It’s not a fucking game. It’s an addiction that leaves permanent effects on your body even after you stop. Hopefully these kids can get help.

  • chany

    I hate the fact that people are making this a game, people who suffer with depression or other mental health issues use it to control the pain and emotions that they are struggling with. Personally i think that this is not even remotely okay and I am unable to understand why people would do it just because they think they will fit into a group. Its different if the person is dealing with emotional problems. I feel like the generations nowadays are just getting worse and worse. We need to acknowledge the fact that it is not cool to self harm, and if someone is doing it they need some medical help.

  • Jess P.

    Absolute nonsense. Did you ever stop to think that thus is not a game & these kids are actually depressed? Self harm is not a “trend”. Its a serious matter & needs medical attention. Dummies.

  • Fezanne

    It’s a form of bullying as well,not only is it happening online but in schools as well,my son,a grade 6 student, was told by another student that if he couldn’t cut himself without showing pain,then he was a whimp!

  • Nicholas Peterson

    This is sick because I have been there. For about 4 years. for me it made me feel pain, and alive because I felt numb to anything. I had mdd and honestly this is sickening. It’s an attention scheme now. People who can’t control this need your support not just some idiot playing the game.

  • Mady

    legit who the hell would make a challenge not only very dangerous but also its making people think self harming is some kind of joke when it isn’t

  • Tris

    Why would they make this a trend,. This is so friggin hurtful ti the people who actually have mental health problems. So why and middle schooler telling and taking pictures of this and showing there friends> The real thing is we keep it a secret. This is when we have to teach this at school but no they won’t because its not important. So does thaty mean kids with depression, anxiety, self harm, OCD, ect aren’t important thing is a real thing that we have to teach in school

  • helin

    i cut myself because i know im not perfect and i feel left out and my friends call me crazy for doing it and i dont do it for attention i DO IT CAUSE I HAVE A REASON KMS KMS KMS KMS KMS KMS