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‘Skull break challenge’ alarming

The coronavirus pandemic is dominating people’s attention, but they must not close their eyes to other potential perils.

Unfortunately, there’s one that has been lurking in the proverbial shadows for some time that demands vigilance and parental communication, before it has the opportunity to do more damage than it already has done to some young people.

The peril in question has gotten little, if any, notice or attention in this part of Pennsylvania, but there cannot be assurance that it is not already here.

Parents and other adults need to be listening — closely — for references apparently to the ticking of a clock, but in reality not about such a sound at all.

Rather than referring to a timepiece, such mention could be connected to the TikTok “skull breaker challenge” that has attracted — and seriously injured — young people in several parts of the United States, as well as some overseas.

It is not something to be pooh-poohed; it is something young people must be counseled to avoid.

On March 3, WHYY News in Philadelphia reported that two Cherry Hill, N.J., middle-schoolers were charged with aggravated assault and endangering an injured victim, for the concussion sustained by a classmate as the three participated in the “challenge.”

According to WHYY, the 13-year-old victim likely experienced a seizure after his head slammed the floor, and it is suspected that the two boys now facing charges left the area when their classmate clearly was injured.

The victim was hospitalized for two days after being injured on Jan. 24 and reportedly still is recovering.

In the challenge, as described by WHYY, three people standing side-by-side take turns jumping in the air. When the unsuspecting person in the middle jumps, the two individuals on the ends swipe out his or her legs, sending the individual in question careening backward.

Commendably, the Cherry Hill boy’s father, after first being reluctant to discuss publicly the incident that injured his son, decided to come forward after discovering what he described as a disturbing Facebook post from a mother in Arizona whose son was hospitalized with an injury received in a skull-breaker challenge.

In the Arizona case, the boy landed hard on his back and head, then lost consciousness as he tried to stand up, causing him to slam his face into the asphalt below.

Other cases in this country mentioned by WHYY included a boy who received a broken wrist and a girl who thought she was paralyzed as a result of her fall.

A British teen reportedly suffered ligament damage and a neck injury — serious stuff, with the potential for being much more serious, even deadly.

Apparently, many of the young people who have been participating in the “challenge” learned about it on the widely circulated video-sharing app TikTok. That is the clock reference for which parents and other adults should be listening.

Depending on their children’s ages, parents need to be careful in how they explain the coronavirus threat, acknowledging the uncertainties surrounding whether the children ever will “catch” it. Regarding the skull-breaker challenge, though, young people need to be told pointedly that it could result in permanent damage to their lives, even death.

Young people should not allow themselves to be victimized by something so easy to avoid.

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