Giving Compass’ Take:
• Lisa Rapaport reports that studies show that both young girls and boys are engaging in non-suicidal self-injury. Previous studies showed that it was more prevalent among girls, but a newer study is showing the practice is prevalent among youth of both genders.
• What are some underlying reasons that the gender dynamics of self-injury are changing?
In any given year, roughly one in four girls in U.S. high schools and one in 10 boys try to harm themselves even when they are not attempting suicide, a recent study suggests. So-called non-suicidal self-injury has long been more common among girls than boys, but the current study offers fresh evidence that the problem is widespread for youth of both sexes.
Researchers surveyed more than 64,000 male and female high school students in 11 U.S. states. Almost 18 percent reported at least one episode of self-injury in the previous year, according to a report in the American Journal of Public Health.
“Self-injury is surprisingly common among adolescents,” study leader Martin Monto of the University of Portland, Oregon, said by email. “For teens who are grappling with this issue or parents who are responding to it, they are not alone.”
Girls were roughly twice as likely as boys to report self-harm. Girls were also more likely to report risk factors for self-injury like depression, suicidal thoughts, or being a victim of rape or cyberbullying.
Among boys, rates of intentionally harming themselves without trying to die ranged from a low of 6.4 percent in Delaware to a high of 14.8 percent in Nevada.
For girls, rates of purposefully harming themselves without attempting suicide ranged from a low of 17.7 percent in Delaware to a high of 30.8 percent in Idaho.
It’s possible, too, that gender norms in the U.S. and the way the survey asked about self-harm might explain some of the differences between boys and girls in the study, said Nicholas Westers, co-author of an accompanying editorial and a researcher at Children’s Medical Center Dallas and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Read the full article about boys’ and girls’ self-injury by Lisa Rapaport at Reuters.
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