Study: Self-Injury a Growing Problem in Grade School

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Self-injury, such as cutting and burning, begins as early as the third grade (7-year-olds), according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Denver, in one of the first studies of self-injury rates among young people, found that even the very young hurt themselves by cutting, burning, carving, piercing and hitting themselves.

"Clearly, a lot more kids are doing this than people have known," said co-author Benjamin Hankin of the University of Denver. "A lot of people tend to think that school-aged children, they're happy and they don't have a lot to worry about."

The study, which interviewed children between 7 and 16 years old, found that approximately 8 percent of third-graders intentionally hurt themselves and most had done it more than once. Additionally, the study found that 13 percent of ninth-graders had cut, burned or hit themselves.

WebMD reported that before high school, self-injury is equally common in boys and girls, but by high school girls were three times more likely to hurt themselves.

Researchers also found that girls were more likely to cut or carve their skin and boys more likely to hit themselves.