Parents warned about "choking game"

It's a reminder to talk to your children about what happens at school.

Schools in the Robbinsdale District have sent out letters and emails to parents warning them about a dangerous game some children have been playing. The "choking game" is when one student deprives another of oxygen by choking him or her. Students could also hold their breath to play the game on their own. Sometimes this creates a tingling sensation or a "rush" that can be fatal or even life changing.

Principal Bruce Beidelman at Plymouth Middle School says the game came to their attention after an incident on April 28. The principal discovered a student had been playing a game called "space monkey," another name for the choking game.

"The student had been fluctuating the blood flow to head by hyperventilating and got lightheaded and tipped over," said Beidelman. "The kids had seen something new on the Internet and were curious."

The student recovered, but administrators got to work educating students and parents about the potentials of the game. They sent out a letter to parents and held a student assembly.

"[The students] don't know what kind of danger they put themselves in when they give up control of their body to someone else," said Beidelman. "Really the message is we care about them and we want them safe and if they are giving the control of their body over to someone else, then they need to talk to someone."

Last week, Robbinsdale Middle School parents also received an email and phone recording about the dangers of the choking game. The district insists only a handful of students have been involved in these incidents, and no one has been injured.

At the nonprofit TreeHouse, program director Tom Richards has worked with kids who have played the choking game.

"It's terrifying for parents," said Richards. "The choking game is no game at all. This is serious, high-risk behavior."

Richards says more students have more free time at their disposal and the choking game seems exciting and free. He suggests parents schedule dinner and opportunities for frank conversation with their children.

"Start by asking questions and try to keep that poker face and not let them see the look of horror or shock on your face," said Richards. "If they do, then you'll shut down conversation right away."

To learn more about the choking game and how to talk to your student about it, click here.  

Shannon Slatton, reporting

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


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