Do not overreact
In the past, many adolescents have found themselves on suicide watch and psychiatric holds because of cutting. It's still best to have a professional evaluation, but often an officer, in talking to a teen, can get a sense of the intention behind the marks. A cutter is not crazy. He or she is relieving inside pain with outside pain.
A child who is cutting needs professional help. Mentioning what you see is not going to cause them to cut more. Ignoring this behavior will also not make it go away. Again, follow any applicable professional and ethical guidelines.
What to do
Reflect what you see. Tell the adolescent you notice the cuts or that a concern was brought to you they might be hurting themselves. Williamson recommends a statement like, "You must be feeling pretty bad inside." Then listen.
Remind them they are not their behaviors
Adolescence is a tough time without any added issues, such mental illness or abuse. With all that is going on in the developing mind, teens have a lot to cope with. Often they feel they are crazy and others might reflect their beliefs this is true as well. Cutters might feel this more acutely. Reflect to the child that cutting is often a coping mechanism and like all behaviors can be changed.
Draw up a contract of action
After meeting all professional guidelines, you might want to draw up a contract. In this, state a course of action, such as, "if you're hurting, you'll talk to your parent, counselor, etc." Do not present an agreement such as, "you won't cut." The child needs new coping mechanisms not to have one taken away.
Although when you took the oath to protect and serve, you might not have comprehended the shear scope of the role society needs you to play, an increase in awareness and understanding can help you help others, especially adolescents. You might be the first person, or the only person, a teen cutter finds that reacts appropriately, validates their emotional pain, and offers real solutions. How you respond might be the catalyst to improving a child's life and guiding them to becoming healthy, happy adults. The scars might remain on their flesh, but the wounds of the mind can heal.