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NCJ Number: 51186 Find in a Library
Title: SELF-MUTILATION IN ADOLESCENT FEMALE OFFENDERS
Journal: CANADIAN JOURNAL OF CRIMINOLOGY  Volume:20  Issue:4  Dated:(OCTOBER 1978)  Pages:375-392
Author(s): R R ROSS; H B MCKAY; W R PALMER; C J KENNY
Corporate Author: Canadian Assoc for the Prevention of Crime
Canada
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 18
Sponsoring Agency: Canadian Assoc for the Prevention of Crime
Ottawa, Ontario K1y 1e5, Canada
Format: Article
Language: English; French
Country: Canada
Annotation: ADOLESCENT RESIDENTS, AGES 12 TO 17, OF A TRAINING SCHOOL FOR FEMALE OFFENDERS WERE STUDIED TO DOCUMENT THE EXTENT OF AND MOTIVATION FOR SELF-MUTILATION IN THE FORM OF CARVINGS ON THE FACE, ARMS, LEGS, BREASTS, AND STOMACH.
Abstract: AT THE TIME OF STUDY THERE WERE 136 GIRLS IN THE INSTITUTION; 117 OF THESE (86 PERCENT) HAD CARVED THEMSELVES AT LEAST ONCE DURING THEIR STAY. ALTHOUGH ONE-THIRD OF THE GIRLS REPORTED HAVING HEARD OF CARVING BEFORE ADMISSION, NONE HAD CARVED PRIOR TO THEIR BEING INSTITUTIONALIZED. THE SUBJECTS CLASSIFIED THEIR INITIAL FEELINGS TOWARD CARVING AS GOOD, NEUTRAL, OR STUPID. OVER 80 PERCENT REPORTED THAT WHEN FIRST HEARING OF CARVING THEY THOUGHT IT A STUPID THING TO DO. OF THE GIRLS WHO LATER CARVED, 75 PERCENT HAD CHANGED THEIR MINDS AND NO LONGER THOUGHT IT FOOLISH. HOWEVER, THE MAJORITY OF THESE GIRLS EXPRESSED INTEREST IN HAVING THEIR CARVINGS REMOVED SURGICALLY. THE MAJORITY (75 PERCENT) REPORTED HAVING CARVED WHEN EITHER ANGRY OF DEPRESSED. MOST CARVED WHEN ALONE; GROUP CARVING WAS INFREQUENT. IN THE GIRLS' OPINION MOST CARVING WAS DONE TO PLEASE A GIRL FRIEND IN THE INSTITUTION. AN EXAMINATION OF REPORTS OF CARVING METHODS INDICATED THAT MEASURES TO CONTROL ACCESS TO SHARP INSTRUMENTS WERE LARGELY INEFFECTIVE BECAUSE OF THE VARIETY OF AVAILABLE TOOLS, INCLUDING RAZORS, KNIVES, BOBBY PINS, SEWING NEEDLES, BROKEN GLASS, PLASTER CHIPS, PENS, PENCILS, NAILS, AND BROKEN FINGERNAILS. TATTOOING WAS REPORTED INFREQUENTLY AND THE SUBJECTS ONLY RARELY PUT INK OR COSMETICS INTO THEIR CARVINGS. THE SUBJECTS SUGGESTED THAT CARVING COULD BE ELIMINATED BY RESTRICTING EMOTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN GIRLS AND BY INCREASING COUNSELING AND RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES. THE DATA SUGGEST THAT GIRLS WHO DO NOT CARVE THEMSELVES ARE LESS OFTEN CHOSEN AS THE 'SHARPEST' IN THE INSTITUTION AND THAT THE GIRLS WHO CARVED ONLY ONCE ARE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE SOCIALLY FACILE THAN NONCARVERS AND MULTICARVERS. IT WAS FOUND ALSO THAT CARVERS ARE NO MORE LIKELY TO RECIDIVATE THAN NONCARVERS AND DO NOT DIFFER IN FEMININITY, WHICH CALLS INTO QUESTION THE NOTION OF CARVING AS A PREDOMINATELY FEMININE FORM OF SELF-PUNITIVE BEHAVIOR OR MASOCHISM. THE DATA ALSO TEND TO SUGGEST THAT SUCH BEHAVIOR IS NEITHER SIMPLY AN EXPRESSION OF PATHOLOGY NOR SIMPLY A SOCIAL PHENOMENON; RATHER, IT MAY BE A FUNCTION OF THE INTERACTION BETWEEN A GIRL'S PERSONALITY AND CERTAIN SOCIAL REINFORCEMENTS. ALTHOUGH INTERVENTION AND BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION EFFORTS HAVE BEEN MOUNTED, THE FORMER HAS YET TO BE EVALUATED EFFECTIVELY, WHILE THE LATTER IS VIEWED AS EITHER INEFFECTIVE OR POTENTIALLY SUPPORTIVE OF INCREASED CARVING. TABULAR DATA AND REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (KBL)
Index Term(s): Correctional institutions (juvenile); Female offenders; Juveniles; Self mutilation
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51186

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