Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WTF Wednesday: Bullying Isn't The Only Thing Hurting Middle Schoolers

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

This week I'm substituting in 6th grade at the middle school.  Middle school can be an especially challenging age group.  My group this morning was chatty and active.  They burst into the classroom talking nonstop and barely took a breath all period.  They were eager to share all kinds of things, and very little of it had anything to do with what we were studying.  I struggled to keep them on-task and was on the move all period to make sure that everyone was working. 

At one point I noticed a student with a three inch scab on his arm.  "What did you do to your arm?" I asked him.

"It's an eraser burn."  He nonchalantly replied.  He seemed to assume that I would know what that was.  I didn't.

"What's an eraser burn?" I asked him and when he told me I thought...

What the f**k????

"Lots of kids have them."  He called over two other boys and told them to show me their burns.


Eraser burns are a form of self-mutilation.  Kids rub an eraser over and over on their skin until it burns.  Apparently lots of kids do this and some of them are doing it at school.  I found several videos of students giving themselves eraser burns posted on YouTube.

All the years I've worked in education and I've been oblivious to this dangerous practice.  What the hell are these kids thinking? 

If you have teenagers in your life and you see them with burns and scabs, it's time to start asking questions.


  1. Is this the new test of young manhood?
    In the old days, wouldn't kids have been content to just have good ol' fistfights and wrestling matches?

  2. OMG! This is self mutilation and should be stopped. I just don't understand kids these days. Good thing I'm not a teacher. But good thing you are one, we need more like you...

  3. Good god, I think the most disturbing thing of all was how casual the kid was about it and how willing he was to show it off. "Tattooing" yourself with a razor blade & blue ink from a ball point pen was the thing when I was in high school (I NEVER did it though, too freaky, I just drew on my jeans & notebooks instead thank you very much!) but the kids didn't run around showing off their mutilations, they kept it hidden. WTF is this world coming to? Poor kids today are so lost, its sad :-(

  4. YES! Ask questions, spend time with them, get involved in their lives. They have a lot of pain and self-loathing all confused and misdirected. Great service with this post, Nana!

  5. Better you in the classroom than me!

  6. This isn't a 'new thing' that kids are doing. What's really risky is they can get some of the really, really nasty viral infections such as MRSA.

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  8. That's a new one but seems to be typical of "I'm a tough guy". Just yesterday I watched a couple of YouTube videos of guys holding onto roman candles and shooting them at each other. Are you out of your freakin' mind!?! That's right up there - or down there - with "car surfing". (Look that one up!) - I enjoyed the read and I love the title: WTF Wednesday: hilarious!

  9. Yes, actually I have seen this. We had a problem with it a few years ago in an elementary school. The girls were also scratching each other to see who could inflict the worst wounds. I had to take one girl aside and say "look at your nails. You don't have any. How will you win?" She was actually being bullied by the other girl who was calling it a game.

    A call to the parents and the school counselor was in order.

  10. Yikes! I had no idea. When I return to fifth grade in the fall, I'm sure I'll be in for all sorts of new surprises.

  11. I'm sorry to hear about the fall-out. Hang in there; you are RETIRED AND IT'S YOUR FREE SPEECH RIGHT!

  12. Wow! I've never heard of this, but I'm going to ask my kids and g-kids about it.


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