Is This Dangerous ABC Scratching Game Being Played by Your Kids?


alphabetJust when you think you've worried as much as a parent can possibly worry about the dangers of drugs, unprotected sex, bullies, and stranger danger, along comes another disturbing trend to fear. It's called the ABC Game, and while it seems like just another one of those crazy things kids do, this scratching game can have some serious health consequences.

It's not new, but rather seems to make its way to various schools and parts of the country randomly over the years. There are variations of it, but here's how it works in general: The kids pick a category, and have to name an item in that category for every letter of the alphabet. While they're doing so, another kid is scratching the back of their hand. So the slower they are, the more scratching that's done. And sometimes, there's a LOT of scratching -- to the point that skin is broken and blood is drawn.

Currently the game is in the spotlight in North Carolina where teachers and parents are cracking down on it. One mother told about how her son's hand swelled to two times its size after an open wound he got from the game became infected.

Even more frightening is the case of a 14-year-old girl in Utah who almost died from the game a few years ago. Her scratch became infected and she developed the serious flesh-eating condition necrotizing fasciitis. According to a story in the Dessert News, she had at least seven surgeries and was lucky to escape the ordeal without amputation.

So while you can't stop kids from doing every dumb thing that comes along and this isn't the most dangerous thing they could do, it definitely deserves some awareness from parents as to what to look for -- namely marks on your kid's body -- and perhaps a talk about why it can be so dangerous.

I think back to my high school biology class in which we all pricked our fingers to determine our blood type, then half the class found someone to smash their fingers against to become "blood brothers" or "blood sisters." Of course, those were the days before we thought much about AIDS and flesh-eating bacteria, but it makes me shudder to think about, and I wonder what other dangerous "games" are out there today and will be out there as my children grow older.

Have your kids played the ABC game?

Image via fdecomite/Flickr

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Eques... EquestrianMom

Umm, do these kids know how to wash their hands? Yeah, this games been around a while. I used to play it when I was in elementary school. Kids also get lif threatening infections from regular scratches, again, not often, but it happens.

Stacey. Stacey.

The only kids I know of that play this kind of stuff are the ones who go to school in padded rooms.

nonmember avatar hollipop

This sounds like a variation of the same old dumb "games" kids have been playing forever. When I was in school, there was a bunch of different ways to play "bloody knuckles." There was a game where kids would flick quarters at each others knuckles, whoever bleeds first, loses. And kids did things like staple their sweatpants to their legs. So really, this news isnt surprising to me.

nonmember avatar hollipop

Oh! And "burning" games, such as seeing how can hold onto a handful of salt and ice the longest, who can keep rubbing a pencil eraser over their skin the longest, who can hold a lit cigarette/hot lighter to their skin the longest... Kids do the dumbest things.

Kritika Kritika

Someone, please, think of the children!

....seriously, you're this worried? Next article gonna be on the dangers of life-threatening "Indian" burns? Sorry, I know it's not PC but I don't know what they call them these days.

drown... drowninginboys

When I was a kid we had "sissy tests". Someone "erased"  your hand, arm, whatever until you made them stop. The bigger your "burn" the tougher you were. One of my sons came home with those kind of marks on his hand and I flipped!! It was stupid 30 years ago and it still is! They havent done it since, that I know of. I havent seen any marks. We have to teach our children that things that are so destructive are not good for them! Kids are kids, though. This game will reinvent itself every few years.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Over react much? Kids get scratches constantly and anyone of them can get infected without proper care. Unless the scratcher is deliberately dipping their nails in dangerous bacteria beforehand I don't think it's a big deal.

seans... seansmommy8809

meh, not concerned. Teach your kids to properly wash their hands. Problem solved!

megha... meghanmeghan

This sounds like the same black rubber bracelet bullshit that very few kids do.

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