Biting: A New Teen Trend

bitingI visited a school recently on one of my speaking tours and saw something very disturbing…bite marks. You might be thinking, ‘come on, Vanessa, those are called hickeys!’ Oh, there was definitely bite marks on people’s necks.  But, there were actually bite marks everywhere on their bodies.


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The most common location was on either cheek and on chests right above cleavage.  Boys had them on their arms and cheeks.  I will be honest, it was a little surreal to see full bite marks on teen’s faces and bodies.  Even more interesting was the fact that some of the bite marks did not even seem to be in ‘sexual places’ the upper arms, wrists and calves were also dotted with mini-bruises.

You are probably wondering what I was wondering…why?  Of course, I asked them and posed the question to some of my teens, here are some answers:

1) An Action of ‘Care’

The girls said they loved biting their friends and boyrfriends because it showed that they care. For them, it was a real sign of affection and naughtiness all at the same time.  When I tried to explain to them that this could be seen as abusive, they said that it is just another form of kissing, but everyone can see it.

2) A Mark of Love

When I asked multiple students why they had these bite marks, they said very proudly that it showed someone cared about them.  Is this the new ‘notch in your bedpost?”  One male student told me, “if you have bite marks it shows you probably have a girlfriend who likes you so much that she would bite you and show the world she likes you.”  Wearing the bite marks shows that someone likes you enough to bite you.

3) Regional

Based on my research, this is purely a regional trend.  A few teens had never heard of it and some knew of people who did it in their area.  In the areas where it is popular, it is rampant.

4) Pain is Exciting

Some of the teens I spoke with at this High School also mentioned that the pain part of it is exciting.  In her own words, “I used to cut, but I knew that was bad, this is another way of feeling the pain, but not doing anything too dangerous.”

5) It is Hardcore, but not Permanent

One of the girls also said that biting is better than piercing because it is not permanent.  She also said that it makes her parents angry, but it goes away in a few days and she doesn’t let her friends bite her on her face, neck or chest, so her parents cannot worry that it is ‘sexual’ and therefore she doesn’t get in trouble.

6) Controlling

Another worrisome aspect to this trend that teens hinted at, but did not state directly, is the idea that when you bite someone, they are at your mercy of how hard you go.  When you bite someone you have also ‘marked’ them as your ‘territory.’  For teens where control and abuse is an issue, this trend might be a gateway? Might be a precursor?  We will have to wait and watch.

As you can see, I left the quotes and observations for you here without judgment, because I do not know the ramifications of this trend and if it will take hold.  But, my goal is to bring what I see in the teen community to you so that you can start the conversation in your own communities and with your own teens.  This should definitely be a conversation starter with your family.

This post is dedicated to Karen Jashinsky, not because she bites, but because she is a  kickass entrepreneur and loves helping teens.  Good work Karen!

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22 Responses to “Biting: A New Teen Trend”

  1. Karyn
    May 2, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    In what regions have you seen this?

  2. Charlie A. Roy
    May 3, 2009 at 4:10 am #

    @ Vanessa
    Let’s hope for the rest of us this stays a regional issue.

  3. Stuart Fleming
    May 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    It sure adds a whole new angle to the phrase “Bite me!”
    Smiles,
    Stuart
    Creator of the Money Mindset Mob.
    Enthusiastic believer in independent teens.

  4. Vanessa Van Petten
    May 3, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    California, Pennsylvania, Australia (perth region) and outside Chicago, emails are still coming in about it though…

  5. free internet games for kids
    May 11, 2009 at 2:49 am #

    wow.. it’s totally new for me. it’s very interesting story, even though i dont really like with the fact that biting is a new trend. Lucky me, there’s no such thing around the region where i stay,well as far as i know

  6. Morag
    July 9, 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    OMG I am so glad I found this article. I have been so uptight as my 15 year old son came home with a bite mark tonight and I was so shocked when he told me it happened at the church youth centre where he hangs out and it is a sign of affection! We are from a small city in Scotland so it would seem that this ‘trend ‘ is travelling the globe! Thanks for reassuring me and I so hope that my son and his friends see this trend dying off soon! xxx

  7. Morag
    July 9, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    I didn’t think this was going on in my area either – I never even considered it , until my son told me quite calmly that it has been going on for over a year! xxxx

  8. rini
    August 8, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    That’s absolutley disgusting. We’re not wolves. ‘Pain is exciting’?! That’s just wrong. What’s happening to our world in which God created? I’m sure He’s not enjoying this.

  9. paint
    September 19, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

    wonderfull…. and another note human bites have the highest rate of infection.. and can lead to blood poisoning.. hoary twilight and true blood and stupid stupid teens.

  10. paint
    September 19, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    @rini wolves don’t love bite
    even my dogs that nibble ,do just that ,nibble
    no breaking of skin

  11. Gen
    November 28, 2009 at 12:37 am #

    I guess that my “region” is one that practices this… it’s not a trend here, and most people don’t really do it, but a lot of us do.
    First off, biting feels good, sexually. Even if it’s not in sexual places. It’s painful, but an exciting pain.
    Secondly… it IS a sort of possession, marking territory. “I just bit you; you’re mine.” But biting doesn’t really change anything. It’s not like it denotes ownership; it’s more like partnership.
    It’s not really as big of a deal as some make it out to be. It’s like hickeys, for the slightly masochistic or playful set. Less sucking, more teeth, but it’s the same basic thing.
    Also, some people seem to think it’s a part of the whole Twilight craze. Well, from what I’ve seen–at least in my area and amongst my friends–it’s nothing like that. Most of us don’t like Twilight and none of us think it makes biting look cool or romantic. It’s less “I vant to suck your bloooohd” and more “Nom nom nom.”

  12. Daz
    March 16, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Let me start by saying i dont bite and havnt been bitten, dont live in an area with it, but cant help find things wrong with this article =s

    You say you you saw them everywhere and yet were suprised ” some of the bite marks did not even seem to be in ‘sexual places’” – Don’t think i want to know how you saw they wern’t!
    The mini bruises are from old bite marks that are healing. They do go away as you say, few days.
    The girls tell you its about care and showing you love? Maybe because it is! If both parties consent that something is a token of love, then between them and people who know, then it most certainly is! Different people, cultures, countries and age groups have different ways of expressing love and care, even driving spikes 8 foot long through their cheeks to show love to their God.
    The girls say they like doing it, and you tell them this could be seen as abusive? I dont think that if 2 people are seen together doing or with this that you would think abuse.
    Its regional? Everything starts out regional! Thats why you have only just noticed it!

    “In the areas where it is popular, it is rampant.” – Usually is when something is popular in an area!

    I suppose it is exciting for them as it will release adrenaline and endorphins, in the same way a very hot bath hurts, but feels good to enter. I think its better than cutting and piercing by far.
    The fact that the girl only let her friends (not the word use here, it isnt saying ‘I let the only person powerful enough to have influence over me’ or ‘boyfriend’ which suggests its even less innocent) do this to her says to me it isnt abuse, nor is it seen by teens as abuse. However, her parents, how they know that because its on her upper body, its not sexual, i will never know are they checking her lower body and other areas as well to know?!
    “….they are at your mercy of how hard you go.” – I dont think its as sexual as to make people be at the mercies of your hardiness =s

    Sorry for the long post and sorry if it seems harsh, its late and i havnt slept =p i dont mean to offend! Second time poster on here :)

    Daryl, 21, West Wales x x

  13. Trent
    July 6, 2010 at 11:29 am #

    While many cultures have different ways of showing affection, I don’t view this in the same category at all. A gentle, playful bite mark can go away much quicker than a few days. A bite mark that takes days to clear indicates either that the bite was held for a long period of time, they biter pressed extremely hard, or both. In any case, this is not sanitary, and can’t be viewed as harmless.

    Besides, what logic allows for this thinking: If I love you or feel strongly for you as my friend, I will bite you to show the world. How does one know I am the one who bit you? Why can’t we simply say “I love you” or “You’re my best friend,” as that is the explanation that would follow the question “who the heck bit you?” Its just a stupid, hormone-driven act that shouldn’t be propogated.

  14. Eric
    July 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    God not happy about it? I think a few teenagers biting each other (or all of them for that matter,) pales in comparison to the disgusting acts of hatred, fear, and bigotry committed by just about every breed of religious moron I know of… Don’t throw God’s interpretation of anything out there unless you can say you don’t belong to any of his churches… The Catholic church alone is responsible for more putrid acts of bigotry, hatred, fear, jealousy, abuse, spiritual bankruptcy, moral degradation, and evil than I can even contemplate… And people like the Mormons, Protestants, Baptists, anyone connected to anything done by Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, or Pat Robertson, Israel, or any other brand of idiocy is partly to blame for their faith’s degenerate acts…

    Let’s just leave God’s interpretation up to God, shall we? I mean, I’m sure that most of the people who claim to be “the faithful” are going to end up in a warmer climate than they expect…

  15. Alex
    July 7, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    Sorry guys but the teen biting isn’t a new trend… I was doing it in highschool more than ten years ago… Having kids of my own now, I think your over reacting…

  16. Dara
    July 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    For whatever reason they’ve decided to start this, the fact remains it’s a very unhealthy act. It also opens the door for unsuspecting individuals to fall victim to those who tend towards abusive behavior. What may begin as two consenting individuals, may end as one dominating the other once that individual succumbs to those feelings of excitement.

    As for it being better than cutting. If a teenager is cutting, that teen needs help. Switching to biting to get that same outlet for pain is not the answer. The answer is to find the reason behind the need for pain.

  17. krissi
    July 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    I agree 100% with Eric couldnt have said it better myself ………I think there r alot worse things teens could be doing…….

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