Adolescents across the nation are engaging in a dangerous new trend called the Eraser Challenge that has parents, teachers and administrators concerned.
Derek Muharem, the principal of Bethel Middle School in Bethel, Conn., made headlines last week after he sent home a letter to parents, alerting them to “a troubling 'activity' that teens across America are getting involved in”—the Eraser Challenge.
“Students have explained the Eraser Challenge this way: kids take an eraser and begin ‘erasing’ their skin while saying the alphabet and coming up with a word for each letter,” Muharem wrote. “Once they get to the letter Z, they stop and then compare the injury to [that of] their friends. Most students use their arms to do this, from their elbow to their wrist—however it can be anywhere on their body.”
Though Muharem says a dozen students at Bethel Middle have engaged in the game, they’re not the only ones. A YouTube search for “Eraser Challenge” yields roughly 1,600 videos. The game isn’t a new trend either; many of the videos date back a full year. Many viewers who commented on these videos allege the trend goes back years.
Eraser Challenge YouTube videos feature everything from kids excitedly erasing the skin on their forearms in titles like “First Vid.: Eraser Challenge!” to youngsters sporting scabbed and bloody body parts, like in the video entitled “Why you should not do the eraser challenge.”
It appears that kids engage in the Eraser Challenge all in good fun, but parents and school administrators warn that the game can result in irritation, pain, bleeding and scarring.
What’s more worrisome is that in many cases, children and teens are sharing body fluid through the game. They’re breaking their own skin with erasers and then passing them on to their friends, who then break their skin with the contaminated erasers. The risk of infection is high.
“Kids are using the same eraser, going from one arm to the other, passing it off,” Muharem told ABC affiliate WTNH in New Haven, Conn. “They see one kid do it and they want to be a part of it and they make a game of it, but they don’t understand the ramifications that could occur afterwards.”
Doris Murphy, an eighth-grade teacher at Bethel Middle told WTNH, “A couple of my girls had come to me because kids were ending up with pretty severe wounds on their arms … they’re 13, 14 years old, and what’s cool takes over sometimes.”
In his letter, Muharem encouraged parents to speak with their children about the “ridiculous and unsafe” Eraser Challenge.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
Did you ever participate in the Eraser Challenge when you were younger? Do you worry that your kids might be playing the game now? Do you know anyone who has gotten an infection from engaging in the challenge? Join the conversation on the ABC 8News - WRIC Facebook page!
[Note: The above video is courtesy of ABC affiliate WTNH in New Haven, Conn.]
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