Many parents warn their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Fewer parents, though, know that they should also warn against so-called “games” that are so risky they can lead to injury or death.
Teens frequently keep details about these games under wraps. Parents often don’t hear about them until someone in the community is rushed to the emergency room or dies.
John Santelli, president of the American Society of Adolescent Health and a Columbia University pediatrics professor, says, “Adolescence is, developmentally, a time when young people experiment with cigarettes and other behaviors that aren’t so smart for their health. Some of the consequences can be pretty tragic with these dangerous games.”
Boys and girls both participate, to some degree. “Boys tend to take more risks, as do teens in middle school, although kids of any age may try,” says pediatrician Jennifer Shu, MD. “They usually happen in groups where there is peer pressure.”
For the safety of your own kids, it’s important to make yourself aware of the details of these games.
“There’s no room for a learning curve,” Alfred Sacchetti, chief of emergency medicine at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, N.J., says, “because the very first time, you can die.”
Sacchetti, a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians, says, “The real danger with this is actually getting it right the first time. Now your impression is, ‘I’m smarter than those people who killed themselves. They aren’t as good at it as me.’ You think, ‘I can push it farther; I can set my noose tighter or longer. I bet I can get even higher.'”