Unfortunately I have seen it more than once. Two perfectly perpendicular cuts -on a hand, wrist, arm. While perfectly perpendicular cuts happen naturally, they only happen rarely. In teens, these cuts are often signal of immense sadness, self-loathing or just an expression of pain. They haven’t developed the tools to deal with it and at times their friends and families do not have the sensitivity to see what is happening. So they suffer, often in silence and begin cutting.
A few weeks ago I was looking at one of my best students and I saw two fucking cuts. They were on her arm where there was no reason to be there. My heart sank. I looked at the inside of one of her wrists and see something I have never noticed- the white lines- healed scars of a kid in deep trouble. How do you continue to teach a lesson when you are thinking you just want to give a kid a hug? I found myself losing focus for the remaining 20 minutes.
The lesson complete, I went to the school psychologist and told her about my observations. I went to a staff member who also deals with these things. The person was not on their radar. They bring her in and confirm my suspicions. Mom is contacted and does not realize what is happening. She does not believe it at first. She is processing things.
A couple of weeks later it is parent teacher day. I see mom and we talk about it. I tell her of my experiences with this, she is crying and I am on the edge myself. She had no idea. No idea. I feel for her, I feel for the kid. We spend our 10 minutes together, and I have to pull it together to talk to the next parent.
What a day. What responsibility. It is one big reason I love teaching.