A study published Monday in the online version of the journal Pediatrics shows that children as young as 7-years-old have engaged in self-harm behaviors. The researchers interviewed 665 children between the ages of 7 and 16 in Denver and New Jersey.
The Associated Press reported that a total of 8% of the children in this small study said in interviews that they had ”intentionally hurt themselves by cutting, burning or poking their skin with sharp objects, hitting themselves, or other methods.” 7.6% of those who reported self-harm were third-graders. Parents and other adults were not asked to confirm information provided by children in the study, but other experts say that the study is valid and its results are consistent with similar studies. It is believed that this is the first study to look at self-harm in children this young.
The study also found the method of self-harm in children differed by gender, with girls tending to cut or carve into their skin and boys tending to hit themselves. The group that reported the most self-harm was ninth-grade girls.
Self-harm is commonly done as a method of coping. Young children could be doing it as a way to deal with family troubles or bullying. Most children who self-harm do not cause serious injury and are not trying to kill themselves.
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