The Choking Game

November 15, 2007

Why are kids engaged in the choking “game?”

It’s natural for teenagers to want to court danger; it’s how they get ready to move from childhood to adulthood. Even just a hundred years ago, there would have been opportunities for 15-year-olds to prove they were adults by killing a wild animal or doing tricks off a horse or going west. Today’s kids have very limited choices: they can drive too fast, do drugs and alcohol, or, more recently, participate in the choking game. Whether they do it to one another or alone, it’s a really dangerous activity, and hardly a game. Any time you deprive your brain of oxygen, it starts to die, and can result in a stroke, seizure, or even death. Recent statistics show nearly a 1,000 deaths a year from this deadly “game.”

So why do kids do it? Is there something addictive about the game?

Yes. It produces both euphoric and erotic feelings. And when you’re unconscious, you can’t protect yourself from abusive behavior; that’s what happened to this poor girl. The message she mistakenly sent to her boyfriend and his friends was that she didn’t respect her own body, so why should they?

What can parents do?

Since our brains develop last, well after our bodies, teens often don’t have the mental capacity to appreciate danger, so parents need to point out it out, even to their strapping 6-foot sixteen year olds. Just as you would warn your children about the dangers of driving too fast or drinking and driving, you will also want to warn them about the dangers of this crazy practice. And watch out for warning signs: bloodshot eyes, marks on the neck, headaches, or ropes or cords in unusual places.

Knowledge and safety go hand in hand.

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