Why do so many girls self-injure?

One in 12 teenagers, mostly girls, self-injure. They cut, burn or take life-threatening risks, according to a recent study.

This means that if you look at any group of a dozen teenagers one of them is probably self-injuring – probably in secret. And certainly in pain.

My book, CUT, came out 10 years ago and librarians tell me it’s still one of the most requested – and also most stolen – books in the library. And while that’s good for sales, it’s very sad news for me as author.

Because I don’t understand why, after 10 years, we as a society haven’t figured out a way to stop this epidemic.

Researchers say that brain development may be a factor – that the area of the brain associated with impulse control and the ability to modify behavior may hold an answer. They also say many kids will go on self-injuring into adulthood if they don’t get treatment. They say this is not ‘just a phase’ that young people will grow out of.

So why haven’t we been able to stem this tide of violence?

Maybe it’s because it’s not the same kind of violence boys tend to engage in – violence directed at others. It’s violence directed at one of our most vulnerable and marginalized groups: teenage girls.