August 21, 2012
Special to the Daily News
CHARLESTON – The Cinnamon Challenge. The Salt and Ice Challenge. Harmless teenage trends or a more serious concern?
If your teen has not heard of these, there is a good chance they will now that school is back in session.
Unfortunately, teenagers are especially vulnerable to the latest trends, and not all trends are as innocent as jeans which now come in multiple colors. When challenged by a schoolmate to try something new, adolescents may participate in an attempt to fit in with their peers.
These “challenges” are often described as “just for fun” and “not illegal.” The risks are either ignored, minimized, or considered to be part of the fun. When hospitalizations and/or permanent injury results, the fun stops. In the worst case, some “innocent” challenges, can be deadly.
As your teenager heads back to school, have you thought to talk to them about safety and peer pressure?
Carissa McBurney, Community Outreach Coordinator with the West Virginia Poison Center, offered tips on how to approach the subject:
• Find out about the current trends popular with teenagers and learn about the dangers of these trends.
• Openly talk with your teenager about specific trends and explain that what may seem like a silly game could have serious health consequences. Also remind them that anytime they are told to try a substance of any kind to change how they act or think, that substance is likely to cause serious harm – it doesn’t matter if they are told it is not “illegal” or it is “natural.” Many things that are not illegal or “natural” are likely to be dangerous.
• Explain to them that you understand the pressure to fit in with their peers, but remind them that fitting in and popularity are not worth their health and safety. Remind them that a true friend would not require them to complete a dare as payment for friendship.
There are trusted medical experts at the West Virginia Poison Center that can give free and confidential information if you or your teenager thinks there is a potential poisoning. Just call 1-800-222-1222, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.