As summer ends and our kids go back to school, we as parents enter into that familiar, dynamic cycle seen every year: juggling their time for studies, after-school activities, going to bed early, school trips and outings, and the inevitable peer pressure.
As we all know, there are times when peer pressure can be a positive thing that motivates excellence in achievement. But we also know from experience that peer pressure can manifest as a bad thing when juvenile bravado replaces common sense. For the sake of our kids, let's take a moment to address some of those activities that many wish had never happened. Good thing is, we all lived through our experiences; some kids don't.
Let me address four activities, or "Games" as kids refer to them, that have deadly consequences.
The Choking Game
Recently an 11-year-old boy from South Carolina lost is life engaging in what is called "The Choking Game." Parents, be aware that based on statistics, every few years this game rises as a national phenomenon of negative juvenile behavior. These actions are not a game! This is an activity where children suffocate each other or themselves, by various methods of strangulation. These include, but are not limited to such things as belts, ropes or their bare hands. Why would they do that? When oxygen is cut off to the brain it initially creates a euphoric feeling, some describe it as a free buzz or high.
Many kids try this alone, using a rope or belt, which is the time and circumstance that most deaths from this practice occur. Because someone being choked doesn't know exactly when they are going to pass out, kids black out and choke to death, unable to be immediately revived because no one else is around.
Kids have actually become addicted to this practice because of the temporary euphoria they experience. This euphoric feeling comes twice; once when pressure is applied to their necks as blood carrying oxygen rapidly decreases, and again when the pressure is released, causing a "rush." This rush only lasts for a few seconds, so many kids continue to repeat this process in the hopes of attaining greater sensations, not realizing the potential for serious brain damage or death. Statistics on this activity are hard to compile because many deaths caused by "The Choking Game" are simply labeled as suicides.
Sadly, this has also become a group event among many as young as ten-years-old, participated in as a round-robin activity or a dare, to one or more kids in a group.
As with many negative things that our kids can get into, education on the consequence of playing this "game" is vital, not only for our kids, but educating each other as parents. Be aware that when sharing this information with your kids, they may tell you this is a dumb game and they would never do it. But as we all know, when engaged as a group, peer pressure sometimes tends to overcome logic.
After finding numerous YouTube videos online, this activity seems to be a favorite among kids. It goes like this; simply swallow a spoonful of powered cinnamon without taking a drink of water. Since the spice immediately dries out the inside of your mouth, it is almost impossible to accomplish this successfully. The result? Inhaling the powdered spice directly into your lungs, causing severe coughing and in many cases, a trip to the emergency room to be placed on a ventilator to assist with normal breathing.
Because kids have easy access to cinnamon powder, and it's not illegal, many have taken to the internet to post videos of their attempts at this dangerous activity.
Huffing or Dusting
The CDC reports that by the time 20% of American children are in eighth grade, they have intentionally inhaled some type of common household product to get high (i.e. cans of compressed gas used to clean computer keyboards, glue, etc.). This practice of inhaling chemicals rapidly decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain causing a euphoric feeling. Done too often, it creates brain damage.
Smelling or "huffing" certain aerosol paints can not only become addicting, but from the very first time of use, can also begin to create irreversible brain damage.
Made popular by a scene in the 1985 movie "Teen Wolf," this dangerous activity has apparently not lost its appeal for some of our youth. This is exactly what it sounds like, standing on the roof of a moving car while pretending to surf on waves. Again, the result of peer pressure. Most injuries from this activity are severe head trauma. The CDC reports that 70% of the victims of this "game" are young males, between the ages of 15 to 19.
In the United States, we have kids dying every year from these activities. If you can do something to save just one life, then the time you invested to educate others is well spent. In the end, that life you save may be your own child.