The Difference Between a “Cut” and “Cutting”

Hi ffentkfkdd
Readers — Got this note yesterday and it really resonated, mostly because it shows another instance of the authorities being deliberately dense, “for the sake of the children.” The case reminds me of the Zero Tolerance laws, when schools deliberately refuse to acknowledge the difference between a Lego gun and a Glock, or a Cub Scout “spork” and a spear. While I applaud the idea of helping kids if they have problems like cutting, I am sick of this cultural decision to be dumb as a stump. So read on, if you don’t mind getting mad, too. This comes to us from Kathy, a mom of two in Maryland. — L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: I had to share this latest outrage I heard today. A mom was telling me that her friend’s daughter cut her finger while in shop class.  I believe this girl was 11 years old.  Of course, she went to the nurse, and the nurse immediately started making a HUGE stink over the cut.  The reason?  Because they want to prevent children from purposeful self-mutilation or “cutting.”
They forced this girl to fill out a range of forms stating that she did not cut herself on purpose, and that she would pledge NOT to start cutting herself on purpose in the future.

This cut in class was an ACCIDENT.  This little girl had no intention of cutting herself when she walked into that class, nor did she have grand plans to start self-mutilation.


I am stunned at the reaction of the school.  In my opinion, they are grossly overreacting to common in-school injury.  What’s next?  If someone breaks their arm on the playground, they have to sign away their recess rights for the rest of their school career?!  If a kid doesn’t finish their lunch, do they have to sign a pledge saying they won’t become anorexic?  Yikes! — Kathy

Self-expression -- or self -mutilation?


75 Responses to The Difference Between a “Cut” and “Cutting”

  1. Bob September 22, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Are schools nowadays being run by congenital idiots? Back in the old days, the teacher would have given the kid a Band-Aid for her finger and that would have been the end of the matter. It seems that every day I find more reasons to be thankful that my kids don’t go to school.

  2. Dolly September 22, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Overkill. But honestly this type of thing happens all the time because of fear of being sued.

    I had a friend in high school who cut his finger clear off doing a school project. He was working on it at home. The funny part: he still had to finish the project and turn it in and he did not even get an A. Even though he cut his finger off! They were able to reattach it. I felt very sorry for him at the time and was kinda outraged on his behalf.

    Another random funny related story. I am bad at shaving my legs. I would cut my legs to ribbons regularly. Mostly because I am a spaz and I rush through it. Well one day I managed to slice both big veins behind my ankles. Kinda like a big vein like slicing your wrists. My mom thought I was trying to kill myself. LOL! No, sorry mom your daughter is just a spaz.

  3. Russell September 22, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    This is much more disturbing than other similar stories – what this school has done is legitimise cutting in the mind of that girl, and all her fellow students she discusses it with. From something that they would never have thought of at that age, to something they are now discussing as a mainstream practice – very dangerous with 16yr olds, but with 11 yr old children, quite alarming!

  4. Maren September 22, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    The most striking thing about this for me is that they clearly did this only to cover themselves legally, because if this girl actually had been cutting, I don’t see how forms and pledges would be an effective way to help her at all.

  5. Rachel Banzhaf September 22, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    And if that girl does start cutting herself, the family can sue to school and use all those forms as proof the school gave her the idea!

  6. Kimberly Herbert September 22, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    In 11 years of teaching, I have reported 1 cutter. I was blown off. This child was wearing a heavy wool poncho that covered his arms in 90 degree heat. He had scars on top of scars. I was told that boys don’t cut. Several years later I found out he committed suicide. I failed him. I should have raised more hell and made sure he got help. Still I wouldn’t have done this in this situation.

    1 time I’ve called a parent concerned about statements and actions that made me fear that a girl might be developing an eating disorder. Her weight was on the low side of healthy for her height. I over heard her on several occasions talking to her friends about losing weight. I didn’t have lunch duty but another teacher noted she through out whole trays of food. The parents thanked me for calling. Turned out that an teenage relative she idolized had just been diagnosed with an eating disorder. From what the parents told me after seeing the doctors, the older teenage relative had been “schooling” the girl on “dieting”. No damage had been done to the child’s body and they got her help.

    I’ve also called about lunches that were all junk – especially when the child was failing all his afternoon classes. I’ve arranged for kids who are on medication that effects their appetites to eat in class when they are hungry.

  7. Verena B September 22, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    Living in China we see that ‘dumb as a stump’ decision quite often, and certainly not just in relation to kids. Growl. I think it trickles down from lots of places and people in leadership.

  8. mbh September 22, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Children with OCD would be horribly affected by this type of treatment. This would quite possibly lead to new obsessions and potentially start a behavior that never occurred to them before! Outrageous.

  9. Jespren September 22, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    As has been mentioned I think the real danger here is planting this idea in the 11 year olds head! Self-mutilation, much like suicide, are copy cat acts. Not all the time obviously, sometimes people do it of their own volition, but it’s well known that children parrot these acts. Talking to a kid who doesn’t have a problem with cutting about cutting only makes the behavior more likely!
    Btw, Kimberly Herbert, I’ve known more male cutters than female ones! Although the most extreme cutters have been female.)

  10. BPFH September 22, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Yeesh. I wonder what they would have thought about the time when we were doing some engravings in a gifted class, and I managed to slice my hand WIDE open. (The teacher said not to carve with the blade coming toward you, but did I listen…? Nooooooo….)

    @Kimberly: One of my cousins was anorexic (and bulimic, too), and from what the doctors said when someone finally did intervene, if she’d lost 5 more pounds… well, that would have been it. She weighed 68 pounds at her lowest point. She’s still quite thin (and this is 20 years afterward), but no longer unhealthily so. So good catch, there. 🙂

  11. talyn September 22, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    I think that mostly this shows that the school is entirely idiotic about what they would need to do were they to encounter a real cutter. Forms? Really?

  12. Marie September 22, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    I can’t imagine giving a kid who just accidentally cut herself and reported the accident a lecture on cutting. Not the same problem at all.

  13. Bill September 22, 2011 at 10:44 am #


    “I can’t imagine giving a kid who just accidentally cut herself and reported the accident a lecture on cutting. Not the same problem at all.”

    Very true, but you have obviously not dealt with the mostly mindless public educational system, a failing system, immersed in theories with little experimental testing, and wholly sunk in a swamp of bureaucracy and union activism.

  14. ACsMama September 22, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Not sure how else to send this to you, but I saw this:**http%3A// and immediately thought of free-range kids. How sad to live like this! For both the mother and the child!

  15. Wendy September 22, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    The other day, having run out of frilled toothpicks, I pulled out sword skewers when making my kids’ lunches. Then agonized overnight over whether sword shaped TOOTHPICKS in my kids’ lunches would violate some zero-tolerance weapons policy.
    We’re talking about 3 inch hot pink plastic toothpicks here.
    I reviewed the parent handbook. Found nothing which could be applied to toothpicks, warned my children within an inch of their lives that the toothpicks were NOT to be used for poking other children and must be returned home in their lunch boxes at day’s end. All went well but seriously I was agonizing over TOOTHPICKS. Ridiculous.

  16. Jen September 22, 2011 at 11:18 am #


    That post was astounding. I can’t imagine living in that kind of fear. The only thing that makes it slightly better is the fact that *most* of the commenters seem to think the poster is being overly paranoid and needs help…

    In response to the original post, yeah, no better way to reinforce the idea of cutting than to start lecturing a child over an *accident*. I’d really hate to see what the reaction would be if a kid actually went to a guidance counselor and admitted to cutting while asking for help…

    I don’t agree with a lot of the previous comments that said that 11-year-olds don’t know anything about cutting yet, though. All it takes is one kid that watches teen dramas on TV (or with an older sibling) to tell all the other kids about it. It never fails to amaze me how much younger kids learn about stuff than I did, and I was far from sheltered.

  17. pentamom September 22, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    This is a wonderful way to teach kids not to get medical attention for minor injuries. Or, God forbid, serious ones!

  18. pentamom September 22, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    That post in ACSMama’s link was heartbreaking. That child is going to have SERIOUS issues — not just from never being allowed to shower, sleep, or use the toilet alone (though that’s bad enough) but from having a mom (her only fulltime parent, no less) so deeply paranoid that she was only “recently told” that she takes it too far — that she apparently didn’t even *suspect* before then that her behavior was anomalous, let alone horrifically disordered. She had to ASK if she was taking it too far, or “just being a concerned, protective parent.” Mind-blowing and very sad at the same time.

  19. Ollie September 22, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    While it’s weird that they made her fill out a form, it is not inappropriate to make the consideration that this injury was intentional. I don’t think you should “make a big stink” out of it, but a good counsellor will tell you that you could easily asses whether or not it was self-mutilation by asking a few, gentle, probing questions.

    I once worked with a young boy who kicked a table hard enough to dislocate his big toe. He called it an accident… A “stubbed toe.” Well it didn’t take long to deduce that he was a med-seeking oxiconton addict… Obviously not the case with the 11 year old girl, but this lad wasn’t much older, and there’s no harm in a few probing questions.

    But a form and a big fuss aren’t in order. Even a “formal” question is unnecessary unless there is cause for concern.

  20. Babs September 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Wow…quite a far cry from my “cutting” experience almost 40 years ago. I was taking shop class in 6th grade, and we were making sheet metal boxes, when I had inadvertently gotten quite a nice nick on my finger as a result of grazing one of the sharp edges of the cut (and not yet assembled) box. Definitely no cause for alarm, other than going to the nurse’s office, getting bandaged, and having a tetanus booster recommended.

    I also have two faint scars on my left arm that resulted from clumsiness roughly around that same time (about two years after), when I was coming down the stairs, dragging my arm against the wall as I usually did, and then hit
    against an old window on that wall, and wound up getting myself cut nicely (12 stitches in all, almost narrowly missing an artery). Today, I wouldn’t be surprised if the school administrators would’ve had me on a major suicide alert as a result (making the assumption that my “accident” was anything but!)

  21. Nanci September 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    I would be furious if a school did that to my child. My daughter is 9 and the thought that someone would purposely hurt themselves is totally foreign to her. By making a big deal out of it and having her sign a pact, it gives the child the not only the idea, but thought that this must be a pretty popular thing to do! I would hate to see what the school would have done with me. In 9th grade art class we were given the assignment to hold a glass ornament ball in one hand and draw our reflection in the ball on our paper. I wondered what would happen if I squeezed the ball, of course I knew it would break, but stupidly I applied more pressure and of course it broke. I had no desire to hurt myself, it was more like one of those am I really going to do this kind of stupidity moments. I never heard of cutting until I was in my 20’s and I still don’t get it at all. Why would someone want to hurt themselves and feel pain, seems totally stupid to me!

  22. Charles J Gervasi September 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    What’s really unfortunate is it sounds like the measures they took were designed to protect the school, not to protect some rare 11 y/o who actually does have a problem with self-mutilation.

    I will not use the public schools or a school that behaves this way. If they even suspect a problem like that, they need to mention it to me or my wife. There’s no harm done in doing that. Filling out forms, though, doesn’t seem like a way to identify and help troubled students.

  23. Orual September 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Seriously, I am more and more tempted to homeschool. Not so that I can shelter my kids from bullies and schools teaching them things against our religious beliefs but so that they won’t be sheltered by a school system gone nuts.

  24. stephanie a. September 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    You’re absolutely right to be outraged. Dogma. I hate dogma!!! Aptly titled, sister.

  25. justanotherjen September 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Reminded me of 9th grade biology class. We were getting ready to dissect the fetal pigs and our teacher told us that she raised 6 boys without ever needing a trip to the ER–if we cut our fingers with the scalpels she had a needle and thread and was hell with stitches. I have no doubt she was telling the truth.

    No one cut themselves.

    There was a boy on the stage crew for the musical that nearly cut 2 of his fingers off. I was working on the other side of the auditorium when all hell broke loose. Seems him (he was 16, I believe) and his girl friend were cutting wood on the dock and she accidentally bumped the table and the saw went over his fingers. Blood everywhere.

    His 19yo brother happened to be there to hang out (he was on the stage crew in high school but had since graduated) and rushed him to the hospital down the street.

    The rest of us continued to work, cleaned up the mess and were still allowed to use the saws. The kid came back later that afternoon with his hand all bandaged up (they were able to save both fingers). He wasn’t allowed to use the saws any more and became the butt of many jokes but no one told us to stop using the power tools. These were kids (mostly girls since my school was single sex, the boys came from the school next door) 14-18 with just 2 adults supervising (usually sitting on their butts inside the auditorium). Man, I loved stage crew.

    I sure hope all that is still allowed at the school. Including the lighting crew hanging off the cat walks 30 feet above the stage to hang lights (that terrified me when they took us up there–bad fear of heights).

  26. Edward September 22, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    Regarding the cuts on the body situation some have mentioned here, it has brought forth a nagging thought in the back of my mind. I’m single and have only watched other peoples’ kids for short times so have no past experience to draw on for this question.
    When a child (or adult) is reported missing, don’t the police still ask “Does the individual have any identifying marks on their body?” and what I’m getting at here is do parents these days ever look at their children – naked – for the purpose of determining there well being? Cuts, bruises, rashes, ticks (two ticks I’ve discovered on myself were well within the covered “bathing suit area”).
    My mother was a nurse and she had no problem lining our bare butts up in the living room for injections of some sort during flu season (Man those hurt!) back in the 50’s and 60’s.
    I guess what I’m getting at is if a healthy respect for that type of situation isn’t instilled at an early age, isn’t there an unnessesary fear being instilled? A proper medical check of any complaint is not the same as a sexual assault. I just get the impression that parents are afraid to do this sort of thing these days.

  27. Heather September 22, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    I didn’t even know cutting, or any form of self-harm was a possible reaction to stress or upset until I was 16 or so, and I was at an all-girl’s boarding school ( I was probably dense, but given how stressed I was at some points, I think it’s just as well I didn’t think of it).

    This is a terrible policy. I wonder how the school’s liability works out when someone starts cutting, having heard about it from school?


  28. Uly September 22, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Self-mutilation, much like suicide, are copy cat acts.

    For that matter, it’s known that many anorexics start AFTER seeing movies about how terrible anorexia is. They’re already insecure and it just gives them instructions on how to do it.

  29. Holly September 22, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Schools really have gone overboard with injuries. My daughter is in a public-school preschool. The other day she fell and bumped her cheek. She was sent home with an incident report in her backpack. This is a prepared form with a space for the student’s name and check boxes to make it easier to report the nature of the injury, etc. There is a check box for “paper cut”! I asked her teacher if she seriously has to fill out an incident report when a student gets a paper cut — and yes, she does.

  30. Tara September 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

    And HAD she not known about “cutting” now she does! Yikes, that’s a little nuts.

  31. Teri September 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    True story.

    I got a cat for my birthday in the summer of ’85. Cats scratch, as I quickly learned. Fast forward to mid-August – time for back to school shots for the going into high school crowd. I had scratches on my arms and hands from playing with the cat and was accused by the doc of cutting myself. Now, some were deep, granted, but the majority were just tiny scratches – failed attempts in his eyes. Made me so mad that I never went back to him and he had been my doc for 15 years. He knew better, but here I was a 15 year old kid with scratches and he just automatically assumed I was a cutter.

    I agree with Tara – now she knows about something that she likely would have had no clue about for many more years to come. When my doc brought it up, I had never heard of it either. I was a rough and tumble kid and always had bruises and scratches from playing in the woods and climbing up trees, but that didn’t matter. All of a sudden, I was 15 and a cutter. I scream bloody murder when I break a nail. I am not going to go intentionally cut myself. Sheesh.

  32. spoko September 22, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    I have to say, I’m really surprised to see this post here at all. I’ve always given FRK quite a bit of credit for reliability, but as of now I’ll be adding larger grains of salt to whatever I read here. You got an e-mail from someone who heard from a friend that another friend of theirs had a daughter who reported that this happened. Are you not the least bit suspicious that, at some point in that game of telephone, the story might have gotten a bit exaggerated, distorted, or in some other way misreported? And even if it didn’t–which is virtually impossible to imagine–are you not at all hesitant to make blanket assessments of our nation’s schools based upon this single incident? Really?

  33. Heather September 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    They still allow shop class? 15 years ago my high school did away with shop because of the fear of injury. Then again my algebra 2 honors class also had their pencil sharpener removed because 1 kid tripped and stuck his hand with his pencil. When a similar thing happened to me at work the previous year my employer didn’t take away the pens, he told me I could file with work comp (I didn’t) and not to do stupid stuff like that again.

    It seems to me that the school needs better training in how to deal the potential self-harm issues. This has the potential to create way more problems and no potential to prevent them.

  34. Nate Landerman September 22, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    They have pre-printed “cutting” forms? I find myself disturbed by this fact alone. It’s the ultimate CYA cop-out. Child has a cut? Sign here. Later if, god forbid, a child ends up committing suicide, it’s “Well, they signed the pledge. We did all we could be expected to do!”

    Ladies and gentlemen, someone at that school has instituted an entire POLICY designed to protect the school and its administrators at the expense of the kids with real problems. They are the ones who will suffer from being churned through a process that has been expressly designed not to help them.

    Sad. And it’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

  35. Myriam September 22, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    They also tried to stop the children thinking about white bears by having them write out 100 times: “I will not think about white bears”.

  36. Lollipoplover September 22, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Uggh. School nurses no longer have the easy job of figuring out who is holding the thermometer up to the light to feign a fever and get sent home. Now they have to follow protocols to avoid litigation. All accidents are suspect until proven innocent.
    Our school nurse called me several times last year, urging me to send in my son’s medication “in case of emergency.” His doctor said not to dose at school, and I told her this. She asked what would happen if the school was in a lockdown situation and he would miss his medication? I said he would have bigger problems than a missed dose or two if his school was in an actual lockdown emergency!

  37. Irina September 22, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    After Easter my daughter, then fourteen, went to school with shallow cuts on her forearms from heavy cleaning of sharp-edged church copper on Good Friday. She was promptly ‘shopped’ by a classmate– they’d just had instruction on self-mutilation. The counsellor called me and asked me to come to school the next day because “[daughter] seems to be having issues” and wouldn’t tell me on the phone what the actual issues were. I insisted, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, and when the counsellor said “We’re afraid she may be cutting herself” my WHAT!?? probably reached the school (on the other side of town) without benefit of the phone. We got it cleared up eventually, but they did put my daughter on the watch list, making her very insecure (she’d just gone through social skills training to get rid of insecurity) because she knew she couldn’t do anything out of line or they’d be on top of her again.

    All of this could have been avoided if someone had just asked her “hey, how did you get those?” instead of doing it all behind her back.

  38. Teri September 22, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Holly, believe it or not……I know a little girl who was in kindergarten and got a papercut and ended up in the hospital with MRSA from it. Completely freak incident. So, I guess that’s why paper cuts have now been added to the incident report form.

    I can’t tell you how many of those forms came home when my daughter was little. She fell on the playground one day and tore her tights. Didn’t even scratch up or bruise her knee. But, they sent home a form for the tights. LOL!

  39. Ellen Castelbuono Vitale September 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    I agree that the forms are not merely useless but dangerous. It is 100 percent true that if the cut had been self-inflicted, such paperwork would certainly not cure the mental illness, and might actually exacerbate the problem. A cut that happens in shop class is obviously an accident and should be treated as such. A cutter should be referred to a professional. Any attempt to cure or treat self-mutilation by an unqualified person is a type of malpractice, and the school nurse should have realized that and refused to accept the ridiculous policy.

  40. paul wallich September 22, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    What’s sort of interesting to me is that no one apparently asked the girl if anyone else might be responsible for her injury. The focus was entirely on the possibility of self-mutiliation.

  41. Kristi September 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    While I was deployed, I made my weekly Sunday Skype call, and found the house in a semi-uproar. The reason? While reading in her room, the 8 year old had sucked hickies on both arms, from shoulder to elbow! Why? Who the hell knows? Maybe for the same reason that she stuck her lips to the vacuum hose and looked like Angelina Jolie for two days. Her older sister pointed out that the school would think her dad beat her, to which the eight year old said, “I’ll make up some story.” We all stressed that she MUST tell any teacher that asked the absolute truth. She whined that everyone would think she was stupid. We pointed out that sucking 4 dozen bruises on your own arms WAS stupid!

    At 8:11 on Monday morning, the school conselor called questioning my husband on the source of the bruises. He told the story, which was exactly the same as the one given by the “victim” and her older & younger sisters. Instead of being satisfied, because 8 years olds do silly, irrational & dumb things all the time, the conselor then tried to turn it into a stress or anxiety issue stemming from my deployment.

    The 8 year old came home in tears because she now feared that she was going to be “taken away” and all of the questions about my deployment had her fearing for my safety. By going with “worst-first” thinking, the school created anxiety in a child, who up to that point, had dealt remarkably with the fact that her mother was gone for a year.

  42. Kate September 22, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    I have to agree with some of the comments above– but I have to believe schools would not be this way if we didn’t live in a sue happy world. Accident or not people opt to sue now-a-days.

  43. Lisa September 22, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    As a school nurse I think the worst part of this story is that you are putting the idea of cutting in a kids head. I occasionally have a student that is a “true” cutter. Once word gets around that this is what the child does we get a string of copycat cutters. It sounds like this nurse needs a little more experience working with children.

  44. Stephanie September 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    This is beyond stupid for SOOOO many reasons, but most obviousy because cutting is generally an activity that the person in question tries to HIDE. It’s generally not something they’re going to go to the nurse’s office to seek treatment for. It would be more effective to look for signs like what Kimberly mentioned above. Perhaps if this child had a pattern of injuring herself in class it might be worth investigating to see if she was trying to essentially hide her problem in plain sight.

    But even then, it’s just as likely that she’s clumsy. I should know. When I switched doctors due to a change of insurance I was grilled by my new doctor. I had bruises all over my thighs and arms from bumping into furniture and door jambs, a large burn on my arm from when I nearly dropped a hot tray of baked eggplant, and scratches all over my arms and chest from my pet rats (they’re cute as hell, but those claws are SHARP!).

    She was absolutely convinced my husband was abusing me, but my non-rat-related injuries were due to a complete lack of proprioception. I seriously have no idea where my body parts are at any given time. Rare is the day I make it through work without my coworkers hearing: *thud* “OW!!! Sonofabitch!”

  45. tdr September 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    this is SO over the top it just made me laugh out loud!!

  46. pentamom September 22, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    “A cut that happens in shop class is obviously an accident and should be treated as such.”

    You know, this is the dumbest part of the whole thing. Presumably everyone in the room knew the accident happened in shop class, because the kid came FROM SHOP CLASS to the nurse after getting the cut.

    So EVEN IF you are going to have some over-the-top ridiculous policy about terrifying kids about cutting whenever they show up with injuries if unknown origin, it’s unnecessary even from a liability standard to bring it into play in a situation where everyone KNOWS how she got cut — other people even SAW it happen.

  47. Jackie September 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Yet another reason that home schooling is in my daughter’s future! Good grief.

  48. D September 22, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    this type of reaction, I would think, does more harm than good. Information is valuable and powerful and all, but for me, when I was a deeply hurting young teenager I never considered hurting myself until I had heard about it at school. I never got to the point of cutting, but I did some things to myself. This little girl had an accident in shop class, all this emphasis on self harm was, useless, unnecessary, and possibly harmful when all she needed was a damn bandage.

  49. Evelyn S September 22, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    I hear you all there, in the past I’ve been quite clumsy as well and would occasionally get scrapes, or cat scratches, not so much anymore since I’ve been more careful.

    I can’t walk through narrow spaces without hurting myself somehow though so I don’t do it if I don’t have to.

    As a young child I was probably always getting cut or bruised somehow and my dad’s parents would criticize my parents about it, same with my younger brother…. until I broke my leg right in front of my grandparents at 5 years old. They stopped criticizing after that!

  50. Evelyn S September 23, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    oh and I have a very high pain tolerance so when I do or did complain or cry some, mom knows it’s really bad, which is how she knew my leg was broken when everyone else didn’t think it could be.

    I also wouldn’t walk on it period.

  51. JC September 23, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Before reading this article, I had never heard of ‘cutting’ before in the context of some kind of horrible thing that people do to themselves. I consider myself a pretty avid news reader too. What this says to me is that school bureaucracy watches way too much Jerry Springer (if it’s even on anymore). As usual, the media reporting on the three people in the world that are affected by some bizarre mental desire to slice their bodies up causes the ignorant to think that this is some kind of epidemic that we need to protect our children from.

  52. Silver Fang September 23, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    When the girl starts cutting herself, her parents can sue the school district.

  53. LauraS September 23, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Wait a second… . This story is coming 3rd hand right? A mom told another mom about something that happened to her friend’s daughter. And this 3rd mom “believes” the girl is 11?

    Sorry, I take all gossip for what it is, just gossip. Especially when it’s 3rd hand gossip. I’m sure there is some truth in there somewhere but I find it hard to be outraged without actually knowing the facts.

  54. brad September 23, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    anecdotes instead of facts.. join the free-range craze! She get’s her own tv show for it too!

  55. Amy September 23, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    Really? This is crazy. It’s shop class. Someone is bound to cut their finger.

  56. Uly September 23, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    Of course, Brad, everything on the TV show is filmed so you can at least be sure it happened in some form. (Not that I trust reality TV an inch, but that’s beside the point.)

  57. Marie September 23, 2011 at 5:52 am #


    Yes, I have. My son was kicked out of much needed speech therapy because his grades are too high. Still, I know plenty of good, hardworking teacher and staff who don’t go for this nonsense.

  58. Kimberly September 23, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    I haven’t read all the comments so perhaps I’m echoing a sentiment expressed already, but I’d be pissed that somebody told my 11 yr old what “cutting” is. Maybe I’m naive but I’d just rather my kids be innocent about those sorts of things as long as possible. I worked in a psych hospital and part of my job was watching cutters so they didn’t sneak things to cut themselves with. Mental health issues can be scary and confusing to kids, and I’d like to be the one to explain them to my kids in a delicate, age appropriate manner.

  59. EricS September 23, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    I started using power tools when I was 7 or 8. We had home ec in elementary school. Which incl cooking; use of oven and knives were manditory. Sewing; yes, needles, scissors, that thing that removed threads, n yes…a sewing machine. Shop; we used, by ourselves after being taught how to use n safety, bandsaw, routersaw, a reg saw, nails, hammers, chisels – I can almost hear some parents today avn a hear attack, lol – even using a kiln to fire up our clay work. And of course there were mishaps. A cut here, a cut there, a poke here n there, i even remember burning my finger once while baking bread. We went home w those i juries. And our parents didnt call d cops, didnt sue d school, no child services were ever called. We learned. Skills n lessons. I didn’t burn my finger again d rest of my elementary schooling.

    This school is scared of wud b opportunist parents, who wud pounce on incidences like this for gain or ‘revenge’. They r covering there asses. I don’t believe its how they shud deal w d matter. But I can understand d need for such drastic, ridiculous actions to prevent n e typ of lawsuit. It didnt start at d school. It starts when people become self-centered and greedy. Thats like the new get rich quick scheme, lawsuits. Not to mention those w a holier than thou attitude. That they believe their way is d ONLY way. N will rat out other parents they feel offended abou,t because of their choice in how to raise there children, at d drop of dime. I keep saying, its ironic, bcuz adults make it about d kids, when its really about themselves.

  60. David September 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    I’m afraid I must agree with a previous comment. This story is coming to us third hand (a friend of a friend ect) so it may well have been distorted. Even if it is not it could well be that school is anomolous and not representative of other schools. yet everyone is throwing their hands up in horror about how crazy the world has become.

    I fully support the aims of the FRK movement. But when it comes to some of these ‘outrages’ a little scepticism would be a good thing. There is an uneasy feeling of smugness about some of the responses on this site; many I suspect are just feeding their own egos about how rational and sensible they are compared to the rest of humanity

  61. FrancesfromCanada September 24, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    Laura, Brad, and David — what you said.

    There seems to be a common sense of outrage whenever anyone at school or a doctor or pretty much anyone in authority questions anything we as parents do, or things that happen to our kids. Of course, sometimes those people overstep; of course there are policies designed to protect schools/hospitals/whoever; but most of the individuals involved are trying to follow the rules and do the right thing. Maybe it’s cultural and I’m not exposed to the kind of busy-body authority figures you in the US seem to be, but sometimes I think we’re looking for reasons to be outraged.

    If this child had cut her finger on purpose (and yes, it happens at that age though 11 is young for it, and yes, some kids are smart enough to make it look like an accident) there’d be an uproar if it WASN’T questioned. How come nobody caught this before it happened again?

    If this story is accurate (remember playing telephone?) then it’s over the top. Certainly the investigation should have been subtler, and not posed in a way that might plant ideas. But I can’t fault a school nurse for asking questions about any injury, and I can’t fault a school for requiring incident reports.

  62. pentamom September 24, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    “But I can’t fault a school nurse for asking questions about any injury, and I can’t fault a school for requiring incident reports.”

    I can. I can fault a nurse (or at least the system who makes her do this) for asking whether an injury that obviously came from shop class and was witnessed was part of a pattern of self-injury. And I can fault a system that has to de-normalize every normal incident as being possibly something in need of investigation or intervention.

    If there had been even *the tiniest shred* of a reason to think that this could have been self-injury, it would be somewhat different. But when the kid cuts herself in shop class and is sent to the nurse, no such reason exists. And what it does is to make all of life a crisis. I realize that there are crises and they have to be dealt with, but pathologizing every normal incident that happens is too high a price to pay. There is a better way.

  63. pentamom September 24, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    BTW, it’s fair to raise the question of how strongly we should react to a third-hand account like this. But by the same token there is absolutely *no* mitigation to be had for the story as it has been presented to us. If it’s true, it’s inexcusable, not just over the top.

  64. Hineata September 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    As an 11-year-old, my son accidentally backed himself into the spot welder in metalwork class, leaving himself with quite a bit of pain at the time, and now a scar on his arm he wears with pride, LOL! Guess I am grateful that burning oneself in small doses doesn’t seem to be a recognised sign of psyciatric disturbance just yet…..:-)

  65. museumatt September 25, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    I agree with others who question the sourcing on this. It seems like fourth hand rumor to me. I know schools have been implementing some crazy policies lately, and this seems in the same realm, but I also know what fetid boiling cauldrons of distorted gossip the average school is. So if there is actual evidence, bring it on, until then this is just fourth hand gossip.

  66. TFG9000 September 25, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    “I had a friend in high school who cut his finger clear off doing a school project. He was working on it at home. The funny part: he still had to finish the project and turn it in and he did not even get an A. Even though he cut his finger off! They were able to reattach it. I felt very sorry for him at the time and was kinda outraged on his behalf.”

    Why should he get an automatic A just because he stupidly cut his own finger off?

  67. Arms Full o' Scars September 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    To everyone in these comments worried that this ridiculous over reaction would somehow plant the idea of self mutilation into the kids head, that’s pretty ridiculous too. The urge to cut oneself isn’t caused by hearing about cutting, it’s caused by being mentally ill (Depression is the usual culprit). While the overbearing nature of the schools reaction certainly won’t make the kid any more respectful of authority and could contribute to lower self-esteem, it’s not going to magically make her start cutting. If she were inclined toward cutting, she wouldn’t need to have ever heard of it to do it. I certainly had never heard of it when I started. The only prerequisite for being a cutter is being screwed up in the head enough to do it.

    I worry that by encouraging kids to not cut, they help to reduce what is a pretty good indicator of someone needing help. By adding a social stigma to it through “educating” students about it they make the kids who do it more inclined to hide it, and to hide the problems that make them do it.

    JC, just because you’ve never heard of it doesn’t mean it’s not pretty common. Next time you go out to a bar or restaurant, try looking for scars on people’s arms in unusual amounts/patterns. Those people were probably cutters at some point in their lives. You might be surprised by how many you spot.

  68. Dolly September 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    TFG: Maybe I am a pushover, but if I was a teacher and a boy had to spend a lot of time in the hospital in surgery getting his finger reattached and blood transfusions and his parents had to spend tons of money on medical bills I would wave the entire project and just give him an A. Probably because I would feel horrible. But maybe I am just too nice of a person. Most school projects are crap busy work in the first place so it is pretty stupid that a school project almost ended up killing him or damaging him for the rest of his life.

  69. healthy educator October 1, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    In reality, the fact that they are making a Huge deal over the child cutting herself by accident in inappropriate. It’s just educating children cutting themselves in a form (negative) of self expression. Cutting this early is a sign of not being able to deal with the stressors of life and if the child does not learn better coping skills fast, they will go down a path of maladaptive behavior and mental illness. It’s my guess that they had a real cutter in the school system at some point and this is their poor attempt to screen and prevent it from happening again.

  70. Beth October 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    I think it’s sad that a mother whose kids aren’t even in school yet can call “most” school projects “crap busy work”. Yeah Dolly, I’m talking to you. Are you teaching your kids this great respect you have for teachers and school?

  71. Meghan Tucker (@MeghanTucker2) April 8, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    This reminds me of a story a friend of mine told. She’s 21 now, but when she was in high school she worked in a kitchen. While slicing vegetables she would often accidentally nick her arm. One day a teacher saw the marks on her arm and had her sent to the school therapist. My friend found the whole thing hilarious, especially when the therapist was all, “It’s okay to be depressed, but what you’re doing to yourself is not okay.” So now kids can’t even do hard work without being suspected of mutilating themselves.


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