A new report about the choking game provides some shocking numbers. The game itself isn't new, but when 1 in 16 eighth graders survey say they've played, it's definitely a reminder to parents to be on the lookout for telltale signs of this and other extreme tactics kids take just to get high.
If you're not familiar with the choking game it goes like this -- a kid puts a rope or belt around his or her neck and pulls tight enough to cut oxygen off to the brain. That results in a temporary high ... if it doesn't kill them first. According to the CDC, we know that 82 children have died from the game, though as The Los Angeles Times points out, that number could be higher, because there's no reliable way to categorize those deaths. It also doesn't include the many serious injuries -- including brain damage -- children have incurred playing it.
And it's not just one of those things that kids try once and move on. The survey found that almost two-thirds of kids reported doing it more than once, and more than a quarter said they "played" at least five times. While it's certainly not the biggest problem plaguing kids today, it is disconcerting to think that it's happening behind bedroom doors and in schools across America with many parents none the wiser.
Unfortunately, it's also not the only risky activity kids are conducting with easily obtainable objects and ingredients. And today, with the help of the Internet that spreads how-to information like wildfire, they are more prevalent than ever. Other dangerous games and activities include things like:
Both largely available and relatively cheap ingredients contain large amounts of alcohol (one bottle of hand sanitizer is equal to roughly five shots of alcohol). They may taste repulsive, but there's not much kids won't try in search of a high.
It's pretty much just as awful as it sounds -- you pour vodka on your eyeball. Why wouldn't they just drink it if they could score it? Supposedly because it creates an instant high. Never mind the fact that it could make them go blind.
This one sounds innocent enough -- just eat a spoonful of cinnamon in less than a minute -- but it's brutal and can even be fatal, according to public health officials. And there's not even any real high to be had -- just the thrill of the challenge.
And on and on. It's impossible to know of all of the various methods kids come up with in search of a high or good time, but we should try our best to be on the lookout for signs of them. Because in many cases, these little "games" are signs that some bigger issues -- like depression, anxiety, or illegal drug use -- are brewing too.
Have you ever discovered that your child is playing one of these games?