As I sit here updating 'February' I am once again filled with urgency
to get a message out to all those who have any connection at all with 'children'. There is a statement that keeps
occuring in news articles and news segments and it blows my mind to hear or read it: "I'm (we) are
not aware of this happening here" OR " This is not happening
at our school". Statements such as those (perhaps not exact quotes but the 'jist' of them) are
going to result in more deaths from this deadly 'activity', The Choking Game.
Why are schools waiting until this is a 'problem' in their community before they begin educating and warning parents of this
killer game? WHY? I'll bet those principles, administrators and superintendents of schools who were
aware of this 'activity' killing children, WISHED they had acted before they lost one of their students in their
district or school! Principles, teachers, administrators have got to band together and make sure this information travels
throughout every single school in the WORLD! Enough.... I've said it before.... Ignorance, is not bliss.......... Sarah
Back of Book Segment Trouble surrounds the "choking game" Guests: Parent Sarah Pacatte & Meg Grant, Reader's Digest
Many American teens are trying the so-called "choking game," in which they "get high" by cutting off their oxygen supply
until they pass out. Journalist Meg Grant estimated that as many as a thousand children die from this activity every year.
"Adolescent kids are experimental, and a lot of kids think this is safer than drugs, that it's a safe high. There are all
kinds of web sites that tell you how to do it and talk about how great it is." Sarah Pacatte, whose 13-year old son died playing
the "game," urged other parents to look for warning signs. "Looking back, Gabriel was showing behavioral changes. He had incredibly
red eyes and complained of headaches." The Factor praised Pacatte for coming forward to warn others. "You're very brave
to come on and talk about this, and we hope it does some good. We want parents to know about this 'choking game.' Look for
the headaches, the red eyes, bruises on the neck, or rope - it's very important that parents be aware of this."
Extreme sport (practically synonymous with the term action sport) is a general term for sports featuring speed, height, danger or spectacular stunts. A feature of such activities in the view of some is their alleged
capacity to induce a so-called ‘‘adrenaline rush’’ in participants (a misnomer, since often the rush or high obtained is a product of increased levels of
dopamineendorphins and serotonin).
Extreme sports are often associated with young adults wishing to push themselves to the limits of their physical ability
and fear, in turn pushing the boundaries of a particular sport.
It’s common to hear about video
games parents don’t want their kids to play, usually due to their violent, sexual, or otherwise mature content. But
a dangerous new game kids are engaging in doesn’t require a television or a console. The so-called Choking Game involves
young people trying to asphyxiate themselves with the apparent goal of achieving a drug-like 'high’ that could turn
deadly. Sharron Grant learned that the hard way when her 12-year-old son Jesse died while taking part in a 'choking' session.
“It's a nightmare that you just don't wake up from,” she says. “It's a movie that plays in your head
day after day. When I found him, he had his computer cord around his neck.” Jesse had told her about the deadly game
that he'd heard about at summer camp but she never dreamed that he was actually playing it until it was too late. “There
were so many things I should have noticed. Blood shot eyes, the headaches,” she recalls. “It's happening everywhere.
It's happening in the schoolyards. It's happening in the bathroom. Two are dying every week.” Here’s what parents
should be looking for if they’re worried their kids might be taking part. Warning signs that your children might
be playing the Choking Game: Any suspicious mark on the side of the neck, which could be hidden by a turtleneck, scarf
or a permanently turned-up collar.Changes in personality, such as overly aggressive or agitated.Any kind of strap, a rope
or a belt in your child’s possession without any reason – and they’ll likely avoid answering questions about
it.Headaches, sometimes severe, loss of concentration, a flushed face.Bloodshot eyes or any other noticeable signs of stress
on the eyes.A thud in the bedroom or against a wall – meaning a fall in the case of a solitary practice.Any questions
about the effects, sensations or dangers of strangulation.Be aware that the Choking Game goes by other names, including Blackout,
Fainting Game, Space Monkey, Dream Game, Suffocation Roulette, Pass-out Game, Flat liner, California Choke, Space Cowboy,
Robert and Phyllis Evans considered themselves
lucky. They had three wonderful children whom they adored and, after 26 years of marriage, their relationship was still solid.
They owned a four-bedroom, two-story house in the woodsy, close-knit town of Mill Valley, California. In their yard, surrounded
by wild blackberry bushes, they often saw fawns and bucks with giant antlers.
One evening in November 1999, the Evanses
became concerned when they noticed a red, indented mark on their son Joel's neck. It looked like the 14-year-old high school
student had pulled his T-shirt tight around his throat. Or maybe someone at school had been rough with him, his father thought.
happened to your neck?" his mother asked.
"Oh, it's nothing," Joel said, and went back to playing video games on his
Joel was not a kid you had to worry about, so his parents let it go. He wasn't wild, and he didn't take drugs
or drink. He was smart, responsible, even "a little nerdy," by his mother's estimation. He hadn't developed an interest in
girls yet; he'd rather spend time on his computer and with his pet rabbit, Fafner. He didn't care that his jeans were too
short, or that his straight bangs made him look like a little boy.
His older brother, Daniel, 16, was the risk-taker.
He'd recently been sneaking out of the house late at night to meet with friends. Joel, on the other hand, was a more cautious
type. Or so his parents thought until March 2000, some months after noticing the mark on his neck, when they came home one
afternoon and couldn't find him. Thinking he was playing a favorite game -- hiding so he could pop out and surprise them --
they continued looking. Phyllis Evans surveyed her son's bedroom a second time and in the dark she saw a shadow by the window.
"That's when I found him," she says, her voice trembling. "He had the cord from the mini-blind wrapped around his neck, and
he was just hanging there. It was such a nightmare. You just can't believe something like this can happen."
Evans immediately called 911. He cut down his son, laid him on the bed and administered CPR -- but it was too late. The coroner
ruled the death a suicide, but in part because of Joel's young age, questioned whether it was intentional. None of it made
any sense to his parents. This wasn't a troubled kid, or a kid who suffered from depression.
Recently, after seeing
TV reports about a disturbing trend popular among teens that goes by various names -- pass out, space monkey and the choking
game -- the Evanses believe they finally know what happened. The red mark on Joel's neck was evidence, they contend, that
he had been experimenting with the risky suffocation game in which kids cut off oxygen to their brains momentarily to achieve
a euphoric drug-like high. Tragically, it appears that Joel, like some 1,000 youths each year, accidentally strangled himself
while playing around with the cord. As for how he learned about the bizarre practice, the Evanses are convinced it was from
friends and the Internet.
You don't like it, but many teens engage in risk taking to one extent or another. Here's how to navigate through this risky
business. Nashville dad David Winkler has four children as different as night and day. He and his wife, Cathleen, actually
drew up a contract with one of their sons when he was a teen because he was outgoing and prone to taking risks. "We drew
up a contract with him just to establish some boundaries," Winkler says. The contract had stipends in it like "you have to
be in at a certain time of night" and "you cannot travel outside of our county." And while this may seem extreme to some parents,
there's no questions that teen behavior genuinely puzzles parents. The driving force behind risky behaviors in teens is
brain development, experts say. While hormones alone used to be the culprit, "what we now know is that the frontal lobe is
still maturing and that it is considered the part of the brain that handles executive functions like thinking, planning and
reasoning, understanding consequences and controlling behavior," says Judy Freudenthal, clinical director at the Oasis Center,
a youth-centered agency in Nashville that works to empower teens and their families to create change for themselves. This
limited brain ability to grasp the consequences of risk-taking behavior in adolescence helps explain three key dynamics surrounding
teen attitudes about risk. First, many teens suffer from an invincibility fable, or, the idea that bad things happen to
other people. According to Jessica Giles, assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt, "The chance of going to jail ...
the chance of getting pregnant ... the chance of crashing your car is objectively considered less probable. Part of this might
result in adolescents doing things like drugs, dropping out of school or engaging in sexual activity, that to them actually
doesn't seem as risky." Second, even when teens recognize danger, they do not weigh risk as heavily as adults do. "In their
decision making, benefits play a greater role in influencing their decisions than risks do," says Giles. For example, driving
fast is a thrill for some teens who are likely to view the benefit of the thrill as more important than the potential risk
of a car crash. Third, joining others in a risky venture is not only about acceptance, it's also about social cohesion,
that is "adolescents recognizing the value of shared experiences," says Giles. "So, if you're not smoking pot and all your
friends are, it's not just necessarily that you won't be accepted, it's that you won't be a part of that experience. Those
shared memories are part of what creates cohesion and affiliative bonds." "What we try to help parents recognize is that
during adolescence, there is never so much change except for in infancy," says Freudenthal. Social cohesion is status,
too. One way to stand out in the group is to take even more risk than other members in the group. Risky behavior among teens
buys status and power. "Status and peer standing are very, very important in adolescence," says Giles. Managing Risk The
bottom line, Giles says, is that "adolescents are going to take risks either way, to varying degrees of severity and to varying
degrees of concern." The good news is that risk is not always bad, "because this is the time in life where teens need
to try things out and discover who they are, what they're good at, and form their identity. Trying things out is the most
important way of getting at some of that," says Freudenthal. But if all teens are going to take risks to some extent or
another, what can a parent do? Should everyone be writing contracts? The key to helping teens through this important stage
of development says Freudenthal, is to direct their natural tendencies. "We try to support parents and young people in understanding
what's going on and help channel some of their natural proclivity for thrill-seeking behavior because it is a natural product
of adolescence," she says. Examples of positive risk taking include trying out for a team or auditioning for a play. Each
involves risk because there is no guarantee that the teen will make the team or get the part. Parents play an important
role in guiding teens toward taking appropriate risks. "We really help young people discover what their passion is and find
outlets for that and encourage their family to support them in that," says Freudenthal. For example, parents of teens who
love sports are encouraged to attend games. Helping teens channel energy may alleviate the boredom that can lead to substance
abuse. "The sensation seeking that goes on is about wanting thrills and adventure; it's about not wanting to be bored very
often," says Freudenthal. So while teens share basic characteristics and may not always make the best decisions, parents
can tailor their approach to their kids' individual personalities. "I think you just have to know your child, know what his
personality is, know what his bent is," says David Winkler. Winkler's 18-year-old son, Elliot, is reserved and less likely
to take physical risks so his parents encourage him to get out more. While this is his senior year of home school, he's enrolled
at a local community college for some additional coursework. "It's been a good experience for him to get out and be challenged
with that," Winkler says. "You just have to know your children and their interests, and then figure out what kind of risks
are associated with the things they're interested in and try to monitor that," says Nashville mom of two, Carla Snodgrass.
Like the Winklers, Snodgrass watches for risks that each of her kids are more likely to take, monitoring her son's use of
PC chat rooms and her daughter's outings with friends. The Winklers try to provide rules while also allowing the kids to
develop their own personalities. "Our philosophy with children is to help them become the best person they can be. Not trying
to mold upon them exactly what we want them to be although we do provide a lot of guidance," Winkler says. Giles thinks
this approach is often more successful than a dictatorial attitude. "Adolescents benefit from authoritative parenting, high
structure combined with warmth, support and unconditional love," she says. Even when parents make a decision teens disagree
with, teens "appreciate being heard and given a voice in the process," says Giles. "They benefit from open dialogue and a
safe space for conversation." Snodgrass agrees. "If kids can talk to their parents, they have a better shot at figuring
out right from wrong than if they feel from the very beginning 'I can't tell my mother this, or I can't tell my dad that because
they'll do something.'" If parents want teens to listen, they need to listen to their teens as well. Providing a Safe
Environment Parents can mitigate teen tendencies toward risky behavior. "To minimize risk, I always try to make my
house an open environment for friends because kids want to be together, they want to hang out, they want to be where other
kids are," says Snodgrass. "Parents can also create homes in which opportunities for risk taking are minimized," says Giles.
"This means not leaving children home alone for the weekend, enforcing curfews and monitoring what children store in their
rooms and the garage." Teen thrill seeking is a reality at least partly based in brain development. Fortunately, a safe
environment, coupled with respect, structure, understanding and open communication, reduces the chances that teens will take
unnecessary and excessive risks.
Eric Olive is a freelance writer and father. Choking Hazard There's
a game of self-destruction that's gaining momentum in the 9- to 14-year-old age group called the "choking game." Also called
the "pass out game" or "space cowboy game," it's a form of self-asphyxiation in which the child cuts off oxygen to the brain
through strangulation. When he feels as though he'll faint, he releases the restraint (i.e. rope or belt) from around his
throat. When the pressure is released, the blood rushes to the brain creating a "high." Sometimes fainting will occur if the
restraint is not removed quickly enough. Kids initially started "playing" the choking game, but now some are doing it
on their own at home. If a child is performing self-asphyxiation and passes out before releasing the restraint, he essentially
strangles himself. Signs that may indicate that your child is playing or has played the choking game include: marks on
the side of the neck, a flushed face or excruciating headaches or a rope or belt lying randomly about for no reason. To
learn more about the choking game,talk to your pediatrician or visit stopthechokinggame.comdeadlygameschildrenplay.com ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
SPRINGBORO, Ohio -- School officials at Clearcreek Elementary
are concerned about some third-grade students have been caught playing a dangerous game of choking. When most people think
of third-grade games during recess or lunchtime, they think of baseball or dodgeball. However, a handful of third-graders
at Clearcreek Elementary School are playing a dangerous game that could take their lives. They are holding their breath to
see if can hold it the longest. The principal believes one child passed out recently because of the incident. Parent Joshua
Burnett said, “My first reaction was to take my daughter out of school and home-school her." Parents have been sent
two letters warning them of the choking game. The superintendent has been informed of children who have died from it. Dr.
David Baker said if students are not able to hold their breath, someone else might put their hands over the student’s
mouth to help them. Third-graders have also been playing a game called Operation Bully. In the game, a child must see how
hard they can push a classmate. Then the classmate has to go and push someone else. Burnett said it makes him wonder where
the teachers are. He said, “We trust these people to make sure our children are well cared for and learning in a safe
environment." Baker said school officials have met with students and warned them to stop both games. And by putting out two
letters, they hope parents can help reinforce the dangers of both games. The superintendent hopes that parents will continue
to talk with their children. He also said since the letters went out, they have not had any more problems. Baker said he will
consider counseling or taking action against third-graders who may play the games again. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~