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 WCTI12.com 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