When the Culture Leads to Self-Inflicted Harm

(SAN FRANCISCO)   Research released last week shows that as many as one of every dozen teens harm themselves through cutting, burning and, in some cases, suicidal acts as they progress from puberty into young adulthood.

ABC News, reporting on the study, noted that at every stage — from the onset of puberty into young-adulthood, more girls reported self-harm than boys.

“The study is another example of how the culture is impacting our young people,” said Teresa Tomeo, bestselling author and syndicated radio host. “Medical and psychological experts tell us the teens most likely engaging in self-harming behavior are those who are on the fast track to adulthood such as young people who are sexually active, or using drugs and alcohol. Given the amount of sexual content in today’s mass media, along with the images of risky activities that are found all too frequently on social media sites, is it any wonder why young people act out in such frightening ways?”

This study from Oxford University suggests Tomeo’s comments are right on. “Those who cut, burned or otherwise deliberately hurt themselves were more likely to be seriously depressed or anxious, and to report smoking, drinking or abusing drugs,” ABC News reported. “Similarly, a small subgroup of students who began hurting themselves as young adults were more likely to report having been depressed or anxious as teenagers.”

“While the media can’t be blamed for all of our social ills,” Tomeo added, “the fact that young people consume, on average, 53 hours of media weekly leaves little doubt that the culture can and is taking its toll.”

In her new book EXTREME MAKEOVER, available now from Ignatius Press, Tomeo reports on the impact of media on today’s culture and talks about ways that women, children and families can make an “extreme media makeover” to rid themselves of the messages and toxic images that bombard them daily, and instead embrace the truth about their human dignity.

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