Town Square

Post a New Topic

High School Girls Cutting Themselves

Original post made by LivinginPaloAlto, Midtown, on Jan 31, 2007

What is going on in our high schools? Girls are getting together and cutting themselves! I asked a few parents (at Gunn) if they have heard about this and they said 'yes', but that the school does nothing about it. Recently a student went to a counselor and mentioned that he had a list of students that were cutting themselves. The response was, "we can't do anything about this. it's up to their parents." This student then went to the school psychologist and was given the same response. The student then went to the principal and was given the same response. Finally the student mustered enough guts to approach one of the parents and the girl that was cutting herself is receiving help now. (she had been cutting herself for almost a year).

Has anyone else heard about this???

Comments (22)

Like this comment
Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2007 at 2:09 pm

"Has anyone else heard about this???"

Define "this", and you might see more responses.

Is "this",
High school girls cutting themselves in general or
cutting parties or
The Gunn administration refusing to get involved or
something in between?

Since I am over on the Paly side of town, I can't tell you anything about the Gunn specifics, but yes, I am aware that kids cut.

A google search of "Girls Cutting" will get you to some informative sites on the subject and information on the possible causes.

If you are looking for Gunn specifics, someone else will need to respond.

Like this comment
Posted by ex Paly parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 1, 2007 at 3:40 pm

When my daughter was at Paly, it came out when a group of girls were over that one of her long-time friends had been cutting herself. My daughter and her closest friend came to me and asked what they should do; they didn't want to betray the confidence of their friend, but they knew she was unhappy and in trouble. I called the other mother and we both decided to contact the mother of the girl. We knew she needed to know (granted these girls knew each other since Kindergarten) and trusted that we were doing the right thing. I spoke to her about the fears our girls had with her daughters cutting and referred her to Adolescent Counseling Services. She thanked me and later told me that the referral turned the situation around. I know this particular situation doesn't deal with the school administration component (or lack thereof), but cutting is a real issue.

Like this comment
Posted by Noreen Likins
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 1, 2007 at 3:42 pm

It has come to our attention that anonymous individuals have been posting statements on this blog site accusing Gunn High School staff of being unresponsive to reports that students have been cutting themselves. We wish to state publicly and unequivocally that on every occasion that it has come to our attention that a student has been hurting him/herself school personnel has taken immediate action. Claims that we have not done so are false and malicious. If anyone has questions or would like to discuss this issue with us in person we are more than happy to do so.

Noreen Likins Principal
Kim Cowell Assistant Principal
Tom Jacoubowsky Assistant Principal
Phil Winston Dean of Students
George Green School Psychologist
Kim Diorio Gunn Counselor
Paige Johnson Gunn Counselor
Jovi Johnston Gunn Counselor
Pat Conway Gunn Counselor
Linda Kirsch Gunn Counselor
Myesha Compton Gunn Counselor

Like this comment
Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2007 at 4:12 pm


Just one individual did, all other posters just confirmed that kids are known to hurt themselves in this manner. I should have thought to suggested "LivinginPaloAlto" call and check her information with Gunn. For that lapse, I apologize.

thanks for the clarifying response.

Like this comment
Posted by The Kid Who Told the Staff
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 1, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Ok the Story got twisted around! Nothing was really done right away until i told the school phycologist. But a day later i got my friend to show the ACS Counseler how bad it was. It was the ACS Counseler Who KNEW ABOUT this for over a month and didn't check her or nothing.She didn't tell the parents or concact staff like she is supose to do. I will admit that the staff was also slow to responding to this and the other kids as well. I still think Gunn Needs to take more action into this. Oh and all the kids who i helped are all now better. THANK GOD!

BTW I am the kid who is mentioned in the first post!

Like this comment
Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2007 at 10:18 pm

The Kid Who Told the Staff,

If you have not talked to the principal, you should consider it. If there is an adult at your school that does not know the proceedure for this type of situation, Noreen can fix it, but only if she knows about it.

Like this comment
Posted by The kid who told the staff
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 2, 2007 at 7:24 am

I did! i told the whole entire staff even some teachers! I told them all about 5 days before i had to personaly make sure my friend was put in a hospital. The ACS counseler knew about her for a few months and said she didn't know it was that bad and stuff. She was checking or doing anything! I think Gunn needs to take more action and respond quicker.

Like this comment
Posted by [email protected]
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 2, 2007 at 8:15 am

ACS is on campus to assist with helping kids with topics like this.
There are new privacy laws fedaral HIPPA regulations that keep conversation very tightly contained as to who may say what to whom and you don't mess with HIPPA laws.

Never in my years at this institution have I seen us rest on our laurels and do nothing when a kid is having problems. What is being passed about may be a distortion of how an issue like gets handled.


Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 2, 2007 at 9:34 am

Wow! Sounds like this is a case of the tail wagging the dog. Before we let our teens (the most intelligently manipulative group in history) push our "knee jerk" button, why don't we all just take a deep breath, relax, and get some facts first. Does anyone else find it absurd that some parents seem eager to find school staff negligent when their own child is cutting themselves and they haven't a clue about it? I think the real problem is at home. Kids do these things not to end their lives but to get attention. Fix your child by fixing your family life people.

Like this comment
Posted by the kid who told
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 2, 2007 at 10:36 am

By law the counseler is suppose to tell the adminastrative staff and contact the parents.

Like this comment
Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2007 at 11:18 am

kid who told,

Talk to Noreen.

Like this comment
Posted by Laurie Linscheid, MFT, ACS On Campus Counseling Program Director
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2007 at 2:40 pm

ACS (Adolescent Counseling Services) is a non profit agency which places therapists on secondary school campuses in Palo Alto as well as Menlo Atherton High School. Each campus has a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) on site who works with the students as well as supervises clinical interns who work with students. While we are not employed by the school, we do work closely with the guidance department and administration of each campus.

As LMFT’s and LCSW’s, we are required to uphold the legal and ethical requirements of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. One of these requirements is to maintain confidentiality within the therapeutic session. While exceptions exist, they are specific and limited to the following:

Child abuse and Neglect
Elder Abuse
Threat of serious physical violence toward identifiable victim

We also have the responsibility to maintain safety, but this specific to ensuring that individuals are not at risk of suicide.

While cutting may appear similar to suicide, they are two very different issues. Each individual we see who presents with self harm (cutting) is given a thorough suicidal assessment. When found to be at risk of suicide additional steps, up to and including hospitalization, are taken to ensure safety of that individual.

Cutting is an issue that ACS, PAUSD and the community are more and more aware of and concerned about. For therapists, it is a clinical issue that we take very seriously and work very closely with the individual. We feel very strongly that individuals who harm themselves be treated by a trained therapist.

Laurie Linscheid, MFT, ACS On Campus Counseling Program Director

Roni Gillenson, MFT, ACS Site Director, Gunn High School

Philippe Reay, PsyD, ACS Executive Director

Like this comment
Posted by Ex-Cutter
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2007 at 5:06 pm

As someone who cut herself 20 years ago, I want to say don't jump to conclusions about the quality of the counselors based on the perceived response by the wonderful friend who tried to get his friends help.

By the way, your friends are lucky to have you! They should get on their knees and thank you daily.

Anyway, cutters do this for a lot of reasons. By the very nature of the anger/depression/but hide how bad I feel from everyone except myself that drives the cutting, combined with the absolutely strict laws and ethics that governs when someone can be forced to accept help, we can't assume that this story is what it seems.

I am not calling anyone a liar! Really! I am just saying that it is wonderful that this friend was so proactive, but that things may not be what they seem in the response.

By the way - with counseling and medicine and self-examination stops. And you can be better than ever.

Like this comment
Posted by Ex-Cutter
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2007 at 5:07 pm

sorry, I meant to say "hide from everyone INCLUDING YOURSELF how bad you feel" not except yourself.

Like this comment
Posted by Another parent
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 2, 2007 at 7:00 pm

This has been an interesting set of postings. I'm a parent, but not a Gunn parent. I'm only offering my comments on the nature of the postings and my suggestion that all of the parties might benefit from being more thoughtful and cautious in the future.

It appears that the original posting did not have the full and accurate story despite being motivated to protect the kids. It's an important lesson to all of us to try to have our facts straight before speaking out in public. School staff are in their careers because they care about our children and they generally do an excellent job at it. However, I was surprised to read Noreen's accusation that the posting was made maliciously. Being partly or wholely in error may result from being capricious, but it's not necessarily malicious. I do appreciate that the staff members would have felt hurt by the accusation, but I would hope that a principal would be more judicious in her assertions despite the temptation to respond in kind.

Also, it may be accurate that the staff has a policy of responding promptly to any such occurance, but I don't know how Noreen could know with such certainty that those actions were always taken in the way that she presumes.

Like this comment
Posted by Mother of Two
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 3, 2007 at 10:14 am

What a serious issue!!!

I don't think that we should focus attention on what the school has done or not, but, instead, we need to help our teenagers who are doing this. First I learned that kids were arriving already drunk in school parties and places, not I am learning that they do cut themselves! I am a mother of two, and I am amazed to hear those stories. We really need to find a way to focus our attention to our children.

Why is this happening? Maybe those children need to be involved in social and arts projects or other good things that may help them have a more fulfilling life, so they don't have to do those things.

Like this comment
Posted by Mom of a cutter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Cutting is not caused by parental neglect or lack of involvement in social or arts projects that might make for a fulflling life. Cutting is a mental health issue, a kind of cry of pain. Cutters "alleviate" their pain by putting themselves in charge of inflicting physical as an escape from the mental/emotional pain they cannot control on their own.

Like this comment
Posted by the kid who told
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 6, 2007 at 11:01 am

thank you ex cutter

Like this comment
Posted by KC
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2007 at 10:35 pm

Yes, cutting is the area's dirty little secret, and these young people are crying for help and attention.
They may be on drugs, most likely meth - or even cocaine. Call any of the residential treatment centers around here, and they will tell you that they are dealing with cutting along with use of alcohol and drugs.

Like this comment
Posted by A Gunn Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 8, 2007 at 11:56 am

I think the student who pressed the urgency of this matter to help his/her friends did a good job.

To the student, who is still a high school kid, this is an urgent matter that must have stressed him/her a great deal.

The school might be planing to do something, but had not communicated their procedure or plan to this student clearly. In this situation, even an adult can get a wrong impression.

Like this comment
Posted by JGR
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 13, 2007 at 8:23 pm

KC - Cutting is not associated with being on drugs like crack or meth. You are flat out wrong.

Like this comment
Posted by JUL
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 6, 2007 at 4:22 pm

Outrageous. I have no doubt that the gunn administration failed to act. More concerned with busting teenagers for riding skateboards and smoking marijuana, they are completely oblivious to the acutally important problems they need to be addressing.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Get the most important local news stories sent straight to your inbox daily.

Former Flea St. Cafe chef starts meal delivery service
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 6,909 views

10 ways to reduce your dog's "pawprint"
By Sherry Listgarten | 9 comments | 4,482 views

Why can't high schoolers write?
By Jessica Zang | 13 comments | 2,748 views

"Plant an Expectation, Reap a Disappointment"
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,900 views

'Ignoring what's wrong has never made anything right'
By Diana Diamond | 4 comments | 1,274 views


Who is your local hero?

Whether they're grocery shopping for a neighbor or volunteering for a nonprofit, you can spread the joy and support our journalism efforts by giving them a shout-out.

Learn More