Challenged to exceed and do their very best, many middle school students are accepting challenges that will help them grow and prepare for the future. Along the way, they are also challenged to meet peer pressure with dangerous stunts and behavior that can lead to addictions and detour the achievements they have planned. The challenge many pre-teens and teenagers alike have in common, is to be one of the group while meeting parental expectations and school standards. Fun and games naturally result outside of school time, producing sometimes dangerous behavior as some middle school students are engaging in a frightening new challenge.
Dares, tempting stunts and challenges have been a long standing feat among teenagers. Trying to fit in and be accepted can result in long term victories and consequences. Climbing the local water tower, drag-racing, smoking, drinking and defiant behavior is not unheard of over the years, but challenges found on the internet promoted among groups of teens are getting scarier and more dangerous.
The newest frightening feat for teens is the eraser challenge. It was first reported in Connecticut in late March of this year. It was qualmed for awhile, but has somehow moved westward with another school in Ohio reporting the same behavior recently. The challenge involves taking an eraser and rubbing the skin raw while reciting the ABC’s. Often taking several minutes, the students are left with an aching injury they in fact self-inflicted.
Aside from other challenges found on the internet, the eraser challenge rates high in undesired outcomes. The cinnamon challenge suggests ingesting a tablespoon of the substance by mouth without water. The dry spice can cause vomiting and respiratory difficulties as a consequence. The salt and ice challenge will most likely result in a severe burn on the skin, requiring medical assistance for complete healing. These challenges are only mentioned to give parents, teachers and caregivers a word of caution, not to give new ideas to teens. These frightening challenges do exist in the modern world and are worth the gruesome facts to inform parents, teachers and students to be aware.
The Eraser Challenge is gaining attention across the states as of late. The rubbing raw of skin is not only a danger for the individual student who partakes in the challenge, but all who may use the same eraser. Bodily fluids can be easily shared with a simple school supply item required by grades from Kindergarten all the way up through high school. Diseases such as MRSA, Staph and AIDS are a very real possibility from the eraser challenge.
Extreme cases of skin wounds from the eraser challenge may eventually require amputation of an arm or a leg, but if tended to quickly may only require ongoing healing with a scar. Other forms of self mutilation, such as cutting, are expressions of emotional release, as one tries to escape from pain and trauma in their life. Seeing the difference between self-injury and a peer pressured challenge can make the difference when it comes to dealing with hurt, thrill and endurance.
The challenge of acting out teen wants and desires through stunts may easily erase future opportunities. As parents of middle schoolers become aware of the frightening new challenges their children are being exposed to, the challenge falls into the ultimate guidance of those who can relate to the real situation. Really knowing your child and who they are will hopefully challenge parents beyond the whimsical and into the reality of an endeavor worth the time, investment and love they will never erase.
By: Roanne FitzGibbon