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Repeat Teen Self-Cutters Likely to Engage in Risky Sex

Only 39% said they used condoms consistently in previous 90 days, study finds

FRIDAY, June 13, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Children who are frequent self-cutters are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, a new study says.

People who have cut themselves at least three times used condoms less often during sex, were more likely to share cutting instruments and had less self-restraint in general than teens who only cut themselves once or twice, according to the report in the June issue of the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

"The associations between frequent cutting, sexual risk and low self-restraint provide clues to the forces that underlie this repeated behavior and point us in the right direction for future research to better understand this troubling and self-destructive phenomenon," lead study author Dr. Larry K. Brown, of the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center, said in a prepared statement.

The findings came from analyzing questionnaires completed by more than 100 children, ages 11 to 18, with a history of cutting who were in intensive psychiatric treatment programs. None of the participants reported having HIV infection. Approximately 39 percent engaged in frequent cutting, and nearly three-quarters of these frequent cutters were girls.

Just 39 percent of frequent cutters who were sexually active said they used condoms consistently in the past 90 days -- nearly half that of infrequent cutters. Frequent cutters were four times more likely to share their cutting instruments than the other cutters.

"Although it appears that infrequent cutters are more 'experimental' and more like their peers who do not cut, teens who cut themselves frequently should be referred for additional psychiatric evaluation to address their sexual risk behaviors and minimize their HIV risk," Brown said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about cutting.

SOURCE: Lifespan, news release, June 12, 2008
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