On-line self-harm-a new form of bullying

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Our teen daughter has made creative videos for Youtube. We live in New York City. We’re working musicians in an orchestra.

We’ve taken her to many Broadway shows since she was young. She loved them. She wanted to act since then, but we avoided that. Many of our friends in the industry said it wasn’t emotionally healthy for kids.

We put her into dance classes. She was fairly good, but not outstanding. She also took musical comedy classes.

As a pre-teen, she started cutting herself. We couldn’t figure out why, but we got her professional help. We changed her school and she’s gone to an all-girls’ school. She gave up on dance. She’s very smart in academics.

She was our only child for a long time and then we had a boy. She fights with him constantly.

We just found out she has been making up videos and claiming she was bullied. We dug deep and found out she is bullying herself on-line, just for attention.

Should we have let her pursue a career in the industry?

Parents of a self-harmer

Dear Parents,

Blame is not the issue, so please don’t blame yourselves. How she got here isn’t as important as what you do next. She may need a professional assessment.

Self-harming on-line is a relatively new form of cyberbullying. Teens are basing their worth on their looks, their talents, their intelligence, and many other outside tangible forms of identifying themselves.

Social media as an identity source is superficial and one-dimensional, but kids don’t always make that connection. It has changed the rules by helping them create an over-simplified persona.

Feeling one-dimensional can create enormous anxiety, depression, envy, and insecurity. These ingredients can lead to self-harm through on-line self-abuse.

It’s not about her just “wanting attention.” But you can help her get healthy attention by investigating her internal and external talents.

Talent development helps kids focus on something other than their own emotional pain. They naturally want to share their talents and that’s a great thing. This helps them to provide service.

All human beings innately desire deeper connections and service provides that.

Youtube can feel like a good tool for teens to express their emotional pain, because others will react to them. However, a better and safer tool for her to express herself and use her creativity is to share real-life performances before safe and smaller groups of friends and family.

Since this is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, there’s no better time to explore this new and harmful trend. That will help your daughter the most. Do it together.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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