Forty-eight stitches and a week of hospital recovery time later, 14-year-old Sklar Fish is rethinking his decision to participate in the “Duct Tape Challenge”—the latest popular trend among teen dares.
What is the duct tape challenge?
A native of Washington, Fish, who may never regain vision in his left eye, was not new to this dangerous dare gone awry. As is more typical for this challenge, his friends had previously duct taped each other to poles (chairs and walls are also popular). The difference on January 16th was that his friends taped him while standing, legs together, arms to his side, with nothing to support him.
Once thoroughly taped, participants in the dare then try to break free, sometimes while being pranked with pillow beatings, eggs cracked on their heads, etc. In Fish’s case, he lost control of his balance while trying to break free and fell, his left eye socket smashing into a window frame, followed by his skull slamming into the concrete. Aside from the obvious damage, the accident also resulted in a brain aneurysm. Fish compared the impact to being hit by a car and told the NY Daily News, “When I think about it, like, I become sad, and then really happy. I’m happy because I survived it. I almost died.”
Now Fish and his mother want to get the word out that the duct tape challenge isn’t worth the risk.
Teens and dangerous dares
As with other dangerous dares, teens post videos of themselves taking the duct tape challenge on various social media sites such as YouTube, Vine, Instagram, and Facebook. On YouTube alone, the search term “duct tape challenge” delivers roughly 250,000 results.
Keep in mind that while most adults understand that no dare is worth the fifteen minutes of fame garnered from a video, teens are in a different stage of life, often feeling invincible and ready to test their boundaries, as well as the boundaries of reality. Anything that’s new, “exciting”, silly, or dangerous could tempt them.
It’s important for parents to understand that in many cases it’s the “good” kids that try these dangerous dares, many times seeking an alternative to experimentation with drugs and alcohol that their peers may be participating in.
Dangerous dares: What can parents do?
Education and open communication are your best bet when it comes to keeping your teen safe from this and other dangerous dares. Here are a few tips:
First, set a good example by not participating in dares yourself (you might be surprised how many adults take part).
Use the internet to keep up on all the dares that are out there and the new ones sprouting up every day.
Talk about their risks and consequences using facts, real life examples, and videos that show their harmful outcomes.
Discuss peer pressure and how to say “no.”
Teach your kids the rule of thumb: if something doesn’t seem like a good idea, it probably isn’t.
Make sure they know that they can call or text you whenever they feel uncertain or uncomfortable in a situation (at a party for example), as many dares are attempted when teens are in a group.
Create an exit plan ahead of time so your child can extricate themselves from these types of situations if they feel uncomfortable.
Let them practice saying “no” in various life situations so that if they need to stand up for themselves against peer pressure, it will be easier for them.
Finally, don’t assume your child knows better, or that they are “too smart” to try the duct tape challenge.