American teens are hurting.
So many come from homes where one or both parents is absent or homes where alcoholism is the norm. Teens learn abusive behaviors from parents and even siblings. Statistics show that most children who are abused know their abuser – an uncle, a grandparent. Generally, drug and alcohol abuse is graphically portrayed and associated with inner city life but this is a misconception. Rural areas are havens for abuse because victims are isolated and cannot easily access help. (Middle Tennessee does have help: http://www.focusas.com/Tennessee-Programs.html, http://www.tennhelp.com/)
Adolescents will go to extreme lengths to find acceptance. Self-injuring behaviors are not limited to lonely, depressed teens locking themselves in their bedrooms alone and cutting themselves. Today, teens are finding groups of friends who support self-injurous behavior.
One of the newer trends is called “branding.” Teenagers are literally burning images into their bodies in an alternative to tattooing. This practice is painful, dangerous, and can lead to infection as metal objects and torches are used to mutiliate the body in generally unsanitary conditions.
Why is this so popular? Teenagers want to make a mark on the world. Every person alive was born for a God-given purpose, and so there is an inner desire to make an impact on the world. The trouble is, this gets confused and discouraged in certain environments and life events so rather than positively making a difference, at some point many if not most people resort to things that hinder them or even hurt them.
Marketers have known for years that teens in particular like others to know what it is they like. Facebook and other social media have been wildly popular with this age group because kids can post about their likes and dislikes and support different causes and ideologies. Teenagers will gladly purchase clothing that makes a statement or is “branded” with a company name or logo.
Now teens are branding themselves. It is sad and it is something that adults in our communities must look out, discourage, and help these teens get connected to area church groups and other supports that can help them find their value and worth not in dangerous self-injury, but in God and His love for them.
Jesus suffered all the afflictions that the devil intended for us to endure. No longer does anyone – child, teen, adult – need to suffer quietly. The pain, sadness, depression, anger, resentment, hurt – Jesus bore all of that so you wouldn’t have to. Satan wants to victimize and abuse, but those cycles can be broken as entire households convert to Christ. The promise of Scripture is clear: Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Jesus was wounded and scarred (Isaiah 53:4″Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows). The world wants to wound and scar us and our children, but this can be stopped. Teenagers often self-injure because they feel that they can use their new, self-inflicted and self-controlled wounds to forget their past ones, over which they had no control.
If you or someone you know is self-injuring, there is help for you. The first step is to find a Christian counselor who can get you to a safe place and help you learn about God’s plan of hope for you.
In Rutherford County: http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/state/TN/Smyrna.html