Just last week, 15-year old Mason Bogard, participated in the "choking challenge" which left him brain dead. His organs were donated. Parents had no idea that such a thing as a "challenge" or as I call them, fatal fads, existed in the world.
As most parents do, they had big dreams for him. Last week, those dreams changed and his mother's only goal was that his lungs would stop filling with fluid so that they could be donated.
Nationwide, doctors are warning parents about this challenge and many others that have resulted in death, maiming and permanent, critical injuries in children as young as 8 years old.
As for the Chubby Bunny challenge, I found this video and just had to include it in this post. It's not to be believed, but it is out there for your kids to see!
The problem is this...you don't know about these fatal fads, so you can't give your kids information that will help them form judgments about their participation. So, educate yourselves as the first step.
- At least once a month, do an online search asking for the “latest dangerous teen fads”.
- Using the word ‘dangerous’ will get you away from fashion and into the behavioral stuff.
- If you find evidence that the “fire challenge” is coming around again, print out some of the articles about kids who needed lung transplants because they inhaled flames.
- Kids have a tendency to think we exaggerate.
- Kids might not relate to lung transplants, but when they see how horrifyingly their faces are disfigured, that should drive the message home.
- Ask them if they think those kids actually thought about the potential consequences when they poured nail polish remover on their hands and lit a match creating 4th degree burns (down to the bone...yeah, that's a thing).
- If you don’t know about the Blue Whale challenge (which may or may not actually exist), the Cinnamon Challenge, car surfing, the Skin Eraser or Salt and Ice challenge, it’s time for you to acquaint yourselves.
- With the Banana Sprite challenge, kids eat about 6 bananas and then drink a liter of Sprite. Violent vomiting, choking on vomit, damaging their stomach linings requiring feeding tubes.
- Blue Whale challenge…trains them to be invested in getting all 50 tasks accomplished. Start out easy and gradually asks them to do more dangerous and harmful things like self-mutilation.
- The 50th task is suicide.
- It’s a maliciously clever use of powerful psychological and learning theory.
- Think about playing the slot machine.
- You’ve been playing it for 20-30 minutes and don’t want to leave because you’ve got so much invested and you “should” be hitting the jackpot soon.
- Who knows if this is really going on, but at least one kid has died and referenced it, so there's that.
Secondly, you know there's no substitute for having a close relationship with your kid to keep them from harm because of their immaturity. Consider the following:
- Have regular discussions about the kinds of things that other people will try to get them to do is critical.
- Be factual and calm. Once your emotional, you've lost the message.
- Teach them the 4 questions that I posted outside my door when I was a school psychologist 30 years ago. The questions are still valid:
- Can I live with the short-term consequences?
- Can I live with the long-term consequences?
- Is this healthy for me?
- Why does this person want me to do this? What’s in it for them?
- It’s also critical to look through their histories and see what they’re looking at online. It would be best if you could sit down with them and review their histories.
- Install the most powerful blocking systems you can, but they don't always work because other kids know about these fatal fads and that's when the trouble begins.
Third, explain to them that it's your primary job in life to protect them. Tell them..
- In the same way you baby proofed the house when they became mobile, you need to take significant steps to “challenge proof” them.
- You’ll soon realize that nothing new happens in life.
- You’re constantly protecting them, but the things you’re protecting them from change as does their ability to resist you.
- And, if you hear yourself saying, “My kid’s too smart for this”, think again.
- They might be smart, but they don’t have the judgment to keep themselves safe.
- Knowledge + experience = judgment
- They’re at the mercy of their immature brains and their need to belong.
- All kinds of kids can fall prey to these fads.
- Kids who are successful as well the kids who are impulsive and who want to get the attention of their peers.
Why, oh why, do they do this?
- Human brains mature back to front.
- Front part of brain critical to thinking skills and survival.
- Failure of imagination and minimal knowledge…
- Can’t predict the bad things that will happen to them.
- The girl who is diagnosed with throat cancer from HPV will likely never think back to the Rainbow Party she participated in as a 10th grader. Oh, you've never heard about a Rainbow Party? Girls apply different color lipstick and "service" the boys. The boys end up with "rainbows" on their shafts and girls possibly end up with oral cancer from contracting the human papillomavirus.
And, how about this...
- While you’re at it, search online for the wild ways that kids get drunk faster.
- You’ll learn that they make vodka drunk gummy bears, engage in vodka eyeballing (melts the corneas) and soak tampons in vodka and insert them to get drunk without the telltale alcohol breath. (WHAT is it about VODKA? Because it's clear and they don't like gin?)
- Both girls and boys get drunk very fast using the alcohol-soaked feminine hygiene products.
- If they want to accomplish a task, they’ll do it.
The final note:
- The bottom line here is that tweenagers and teenagers both need more supervision than you thought.
- It’s just that now, you’re protecting them from self-inflicted wounds instead of crashing into the corners or furniture.
- Regardless, you have to advocate for them because you just can’t live with the consequences.
Good luck going to sleep now.
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