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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It can be almost addictive by watching someone attempt something dangerous or unusual.

When you open YouTube, you have your pick of the obscure thrills and joining in can be as easy as pressing “play”.

The salt & ice challenge, the Kylie lip challenge, and the car surfing challenge are dangerous YouTube trends that kids and teens attempt all in the name of “fun”.

How can someone go from say, putting a spoonful of cinnamon in their mouth to consuming a known and toxic substance?

“A challenge is another word for a dare in my mind. Kids are eager to have the notoriety and have people pay attention to them,” Phil Rainer, Chief Clinical Officer at Capital Counseling, said. “On YouTube, if you can drive a lot of people to your channel and have them watch you, you are that much more significant, and it’s exciting to have a lot of followers. The damage that can cause can be far more intense.”

This is something Ebony Merritt and her 12-year-old daughter Jamoni know all too well.

“She said, ‘we’re about to boil water and throw it in Jamoni’s face. We’ve seen it on YouTube.’”

According to Ebony, this is what one 12-year-old girl confessed to telling her teenage friends at a sleepover, just moments before the group attempted the “hot water challenge” on her sleeping daughter.

“She said they boiled the water and laughed over Jamoni while she was sleeping,” Ebony said. “She said, ‘she took the water and poured it in the cup. She threw the cup, I threw the pot.’”

Just like that, Ebony says, three young girls ranging in ages 12 to 15 threw an entire pot of boiling water over an unsuspecting Jamoni.

“They said don’t fall asleep or you’ll get pranked, but I fell asleep. When I fell asleep, all I felt was hot water pouring down my body, on my face, and my shoulders,” Jamoni said. “I was screaming and jumping and saying ‘It hurts! It hurts! It burns!’”

The nightmare didn’t end there. Jamoni says the mother in charge removed her clothes and put her in a cold shower for an hour and thirty minutes before another adult came by and insisted on calling ems and alerting Ebony.

“All I could do is sit in that EMS truck and say ‘what did they say happened to my daughter?’ She was bubbling all over,” Ebony said. “When they cleaned it the nurse was like you don’t want to see her. You couldn’t even see my baby’s face at all. Her eyes were closed. In the meantime though, that spirit never left. That’s what kept me going.”

Her upbeat spirit is evident today as she continues to recover. Her scars are fading day by day but her mother knows that Jamoni is lucky to be alive after sustaining serious burns to over 85 percent of her face.

“It is disturbing. It is sick and these little girls are killing themselves.”

After many months, Ebony says that the teens have still have not faced consequences for what happened that night. All she and Jamoni can do now is use their story to caution others.

“I have never heard of anything like this, and I’m sorry to say, social media is stealing our kids.”

“Stop the bullying. Just stop doing this YouTube stuff,” Jamoni said.

The expert advice? You might want to monitor what your kids are watching on YouTube.

“There’s just outrageous material that can be accessed easily online,” Rainer said. “So if there are no limits and no controls, kids are going to be seeing things that they’re not emotionally and developmentally ready to see in a healthy context. You’re walking in dangerous territory sometimes.”

Talk to your kids

Start early and initiate conversations. According to the FTC, research suggests that when children want important information, most rely on their parents.
2

Create an honest and open environment

Listening and taking their feelings into account helps keep conversation afloat.
3

Communicate your values

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Communicate your values

Most kids need to hear information repeated, in small doses, for it to sink in. If you keep talking with your kids, your patience and persistence will pay off in the long run.