Social media has given birth to a long list of dangerous viral trends — the "Tide pod challenge," the "condom snorting challenge," etc. — and now there's a new dangerous challenge circulating on TikTok, endangering American kids. This time, the craze in question involves two people tricking one of their friends into standing side-by-side with them and jumping. Then, they kick his legs out from under him and send him crashing to the floor.
It doesn't take much imagination to realize that a trend dubbed the "skull breaker challenge" could lead to grave health consequences like broken bones and head injuries. However, in the ever-growing quest for followers and likes, teens may not have those consequences at the forefront of their minds.
In Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on January 24, that unfortunate fact led two 13-year-olds to prank one of their classmates into participating in one of these videos. That classmate ended up in the hospital with a closed head injury and and a concussion that caused a seizure.
The victim's parents, Marc and Stacy Shenker, told CBS New York that they arrived at their son's school 20 minutes after receiving a phone call that he had been injured.
"He was laying down non-responsive and they had called the ambulance," Stacy Shenker recalled.
Now, the two seventh graders who orchestrated the social media video have been arrested and charged with both third-degree aggravated assault and third-degree endangering an injured victim.
After announcing the charges, acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer asked parents to talk to their children about the risks of this sort of disturbing online trend.
"While the challenges may seem funny or get views on social media platforms, they can have serious and long lasting health consequences," she said. "By having this talk with your kids, we hope to prevent future injuries and raise awareness about the real danger of some of these online trends."
School officials in Baltimore have issued a similar warning.
"At best, you'll get a bruise. At worst, you could die," Dr. Richard Lebow, an emergency room physician at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital, told CBS Baltimore station WJZ.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff issued a advisory in late February amid reports that numerous middle schoolers around the country — who are the prime demographic of the buzzy new video-sharing platform, TikTok — have been injured by this trend.
One teen in Miami who didn't want to be identified spoke to CBS New York about how they were tricked into being the teen in the middle of one of these videos.
"I don't even know if it's describable how much it hurts, not only physically but mentally," the teen said.
"It's really important that parents and teachers are explaining to kids that this is actually an assault. It's a form of cyber-bullying and it absolutely has to stop," child psychiatrist Dr. Jodi Gold told CBS New York's Valerie Castro. "You are now recording yourself assaulting someone and now you've put it out publicly, so absolutely this is going to follow you."
First published on March 4, 2020 / 2:10 PM
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