Cutting Cry for Help

10 Jul

Letterbalm Cuts on ArmDear LetterBalm: There’s something bothering me. My little sister is cutting herself. She’s only 13, and it started when some mean girls at school kept getting in her face all last year. My sister has a stutter, and they mocked her and posted a video of her on YouTube. Our parents spoke to the principal and one of her teachers, but nothing happened – the teasing continued. My sister confided in me, and I said something to my mother, but she said the teasing would stop eventually. My sister’s going into high school in September with some of those girls. I’ll be a senior at a different high school, so I can’t look out for her. But what can I say to my parents to make them act?

–Concerned For My Sister

Bravo, big sister! Take things slowly in order because Ms L.B. says this is serious family business involving a breakdown of trust and parental protection. First of all, talk with your sister. It may take time, but you need to convince her that your parents must be told about her cutting herself. Then, tell your parents that the two of you have something serious to discuss and that they must listen. Gently encourage your sister and sit with her and support her as she reveals her pain and receives comfort from the family. (Their apology for not seeing things through last year would be nice – and, if they don’t act, take your concerns to the nearest responsible adult.)  Separately, have a private talk with your folks, thusly:

Mom and Dad, I hope you see now that Callie is in serious shape. She needs therapy right away, and she needs to know that she can trust her family to pay attention when she comes to us with a problem. We all fell down on the job last year because the girls continued to bully Callie and nobody held them accountable. Some of those girls are going to Ludlow with Callie next year. It’s not fair for her to put up with four more years of this torture. I think you have to talk with the therapist about a plan for Callie to become strong. The school must have an anti-bullying policy, and we can check that out privately. We can also find a lot of resources online. Listen, I know what goes in high school, and it’s brutal. We need to pull together.

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