The challenge involves three people standing next to each other and when the person in the middle thinks all three are jumping into the air, the two on the sides kick out the middle person’s legs, causing them to fall and hit their head.
Parents Stacy and Marc Shenker of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, are warning other parents after their 13-year-old son tried the challenge and suffered a concussion, which then caused him to have a seizure. When Stacy arrived at her son’s school, only 20 minutes after the incident, he was unresponsive and the school had called an ambulance, she told CBSNewYork.
“A prank of this nature couldn’t just put a kid in the hospital but could actually kill someone,” Marc told CBSNewYork.
The lawyer of another teen injured while attempting the challenge from Miami, Florida, is planning to file a lawsuit against the school board where the incident took place. “My client has suffered serious physical injuries to her head, neck and back,” the lawyer told CBSMiami. “And [she] continues to suffer the mental and emotional pain of humiliation and bullying.”
The video-sharing app is popular among middle school and high school age kids, though Common Sense Media suggests it for ages 16+ due to its permissive privacy settings and mature content. Experts say children might be attempting the dangerous challenge to achieve a level of “TikTok fame.”
Theresa Desuyo, a digital family expert at Qustodio, said to keep children safe, parents should have an honest conversation with their kids about social media and the “good” and “bad” of what’s trending. Desuyo suggested creating a social media contract with kids, outlining what information can be shared, prohibiting the sharing of inappropriate or dangerous content, and monitoring the time spent on social media. She noted that this method can be more effective than simply spying on kids’ social media usage.
Desuyo said children don’t always realize that digital footprints last forever and can damage their reputation in the future.
“It’s really important that parents and teachers are explaining to kids that this is actually an assault. It’s a form of cyber-bullying and it absolutely has to stop,” child psychiatrist Jodi Gold told CBSNewYork. “You are now recording yourself assaulting someone and now you’ve put it out publicly, so absolutely this is going to follow you.”
Though the Skull Breaker Challenge has only been around a few weeks, it seems children around the world are learning just how dangerous the challenge can be.