The safeguarding team have become aware of numerous challenges that young people take part in. These challenges are stunts that range from harmless to horrifying. Some are amusing, such as the mannequin challenge, there are helpful ones such as the ALS ice bucket challenge, but some challenges can be dangerous, resulting in physical injury and possibly death.
You will find below a list of the up to date crazes that the safeguarding team are aware of, along with information for parents on what you can do.
MOMO – This online game/ challenge enticed users to perform a series of dangerous tasks, violent acts and self-harm ending with suicide. The game initially caused panic and distress for youngsters However, this was found to be a hoax and was classed as an internet urban legend.
Blue Whale – This is an online game similar to MOMO, users were asked to perform a series of tasks over 50 days, tasks started out small, “watch a scary movie”, “draw a whale on your hand”. As the game progressed the tasks became more sinister and ended with the final challenge that the user had to commit suicide. Arrests were made in 2016,2017 and 2018 for creating the game and enticing users to commit suicide.
Salt and Ice Challenge –Salt is poured onto the person’s arm and then a piece of ice is placed directly on top of the salt. This causes a "burning" sensation, and participants compete to withstand the pain for the longest time. The salt and ice challenge can quickly cause second- and third-degree injuries similar to frostbite, or burning yourself with the metal end of a lighter, as well as causing painful open sores to form on the skin. Due to the numbing sensation of the cold and possible nerve damage during the stunt, participants are often unaware of the extent of any injuries sustained during the challenge. Skin discoloration from the challenge may remain after the challenge has been attempted
99 Challenge – You rub an area of your skin with an object for 99 seconds. The objects can be anything from a coin to a ruler, this will leave friction marks which will scab over. Some scarring may be left as a result, depending on what object is used.
Deodorant Can Challenge – Deodorant cans will be sprayed as close to the skin as possible for the longest amount of time. This can cause second degree burns which may require skin grafts and will leave a scar.
Hot Pepper Challenge - This is a viral internet food challenge that involves filming yourself while trying to eat and swallow a chilli pepper e.g. Cayenne pepper, Thai pepper, Habanero, Ghost pepper and the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper. Once they have eaten the chilli they will experience extreme heat, burning sensation and profuse sweating. Milk is usually set to one side in order to help with the heat and burning sensation and provides some relief. This challenge can cause severe stomach pain and burn your oesophagus.
Cinnamon Challenge – The objective of this challenge is to film yourself while eating a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds, without drinking anything. The challenge is difficult and carries substantial health risks. The cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, resulting in coughing, gagging, vomiting and inhaling of cinnamon, leading to throat irritation, breathing difficulties and a risk of pneumonia.
Choking/Fainting/Pass Out Challenge – This involves youngsters choking themselves or getting friends to press on their chest after hyperventilating to get a euphoric high. This challenge is exceptionally risky and has resulted in death.
Tide Pod Challenge – This challenge involves biting into a pod of laundry detergent. Because the outside coating of the pod is meant to dissolve, it will release the contents quickly into the mouth. This can cause chemical burns, kidney and lung problems.
What to do
Talk about it
Though we can't always be with our tweens and teens to prevent dangerous behaviour, our words really can stay with them. Say, "If you ever want to do an Internet challenge, check with me first."
Get them to think
Help your child think through the challenges and whether they're safe or have potential risks. Say, "Walk through each step and figure out where things could go wrong."
Acknowledge peer pressure
Today's youngsters think of Internet personalities as their peers, so seeing children on YouTube doing a challenge could influence your child. Ask, "Why do you want to do this? Is this a video of yourself that you really want out in the world?"
Stay (somewhat) up to date
Ask your child about what's happening in their lives when they're not distracted, even when it seems like they don't want you to. Sometimes children are more willing to talk about what's going on with their friends than with themselves, so pose questions about friends, school, and trends. Once the conversation is open, you can get a sense of what your child thinks about the latest craze and if they're safe. Keep an open mind and intervene if you're concerned. Say, "Would you consider doing a viral stunt if someone asked you? Which ones would you do and not do?"
Model responsible online habits
Some parents are the ones recording their children taking these challenges. Today it might be harmless, but tomorrow it might be more dangerous. Help your children make the distinction so they can stay safe.
It’s coming up to that time of year when students begin to feel overwhelmed by the amount of exams they are required to sit. In order to help students, where possible, with tips and advice on how to manage exam stress, they have been offered access to the Feeling Frazzled group, which is run by the school’s Mental Health Practitioner on a Tuesday after school. An exam stress booklet has also been made available on the student portal.
Below are a few links that will give you, the parent/carer, some ideas on how you can support your child.
Talking with your children about difficult topics
We are all too aware of difficult issues raised on the news and all over social media. Young children now have easy access to this through social media such as, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. It can cause unease, worry, anxiety and distress and all these feelings are fully understandable. The two links below will provide support in discussing difficult topics with your child. However, if you do feel your child needs further support, due to the level of their anxieties, please do not hesitate to contact the safeguarding team on (01709) 760222.
NITROUS OXIDE known as LAUGHING GAS
We have been made aware that young people are gaining easy access to Nitrous Oxide known as “Laughing Gas. While no incidents have been reported regarding at Wath Comprehensive, we feel it is important to let parents know of any dangerous trends.
Nitrous Oxide “Laughing Gas” is bought in small canisters, it can be bought online quite cheaply. We are not currently aware of the availability of this in the local area.
While this gas does have several legitimate uses when inhaled it can cause feelings of euphoria and relaxation. Some people can also experience hallucinations.
However, there is a risk of death as a lack of oxygen can occur when using nitrous oxide. This risk is likely to be greater if the gas is consumed in an enclosed space or if a substantial amount is rapidly used.
The three main uses of Nitrous Oxide;
- To numb pain during medical procedures such as dental work.
- In engines to increase their power output.
- In catering, in whipped cream aerosol cans to prevent the cream going ‘bad’ and in food packaging to prevent the food from rotting.
Although nitrous oxide has been legal in the past, since the Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect on 26 May 2016, it is now illegal to supply or import nitrous oxide for human consumption.
13 Reason Why Season 2
A Netflix Drama
Some of you will already be aware of the Netflix drama '13 Reasons Why'. The first series was aired last year and is an adaptation of a novel by Jane Asher. The series follows the aftermath of high school student Hannah Baker’s suicide. Before Hannah dies, she creates 13 tapes and each tape is dedicated to a person who she felt played a part in her suicide.
On May 18th 2018, series 2 was released and again, deals with hard hitting issues, which anyone, particularly youngsters, may find difficult to watch. We are aware that the final episode of series 2 is quite harrowing to watch. Please note, that each episode does have an age rating of 15-18yrs and a warning about the content.
It is important to remember that although Netflix has some great dramas and documentaries, they work to a set of completely different guidelines regarding what can and cannot be shown. For example, UK Media regulations avoid portraying any methods of suicide that are easy to imitate, don’t broadcast the method used, or ever indicate that a suicide method is quick. Their advice is to avoid showing the suicide completely and only allude to it.
'13 Reasons Why' covers a range of difficult topics including, sexual assault, bullying, depression, rape, peer pressure, cyber-bullying, mental health issues and death by suicide. All these topics are broadcast in a lot of detail in this drama, both in series 1 and 2.
Whilst your child may not intend watching the series, some of their peers will. We therefore advise that you have an open dialogue with your child about the series, should they ask any questions about anything they may hear. We recommend that you activate the parental controls on your Netflix account, or ideally, watch the programme yourself first, to determine whether or not it is appropriate for them to view.
If you are unsure how to activate your parental controls, please see the link to the guide below.
If you have any concerns about your child and their emotional wellbeing, please do not hesitate to contact the school’s safeguarding team to discuss further support.