Children who exhibit self-injurious behavior (SIB) perform deliberate and repetitive acts of injuring their own body as a way to cope with overwhelming negative feelings, such as sadness, anxiety or stress, or as a way to experience some sense of feeling. SIB can also provide a way for youth to express some internal rage, to re-enact a past trauma, or to offer a brief sense of control. Research indicates that girls are more likely to self-injure than boys, and that most begin SIB between the ages of 12 and 15.
If you suspect a child is experiencing self-injury, it is important NOT to focus on the injury itself. It may be helpful to talk to a therapist about ways to address SIB with a young person.