[EDITOR’S NOTE: The above photo from YouTube is not of the arrested teens. It is for illustrative purposes only.]
Two teens have been charged in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for injuring another boy in the “skull breaker” social media challenge. Also known as the “tripping challenge,” this dangerous TikTok trend involves three people standing in a row, the middle person jumping up, and the two on the side kicking their legs out from under them.
As is often the case with the challenge, the victim in this incident did not know the other boys would kick his legs. The prank sent him to the hospital, where he was treated for more than 24 hours for a concussion and seizure, reports NBC News.
“We Had Never Heard of the Prank”
The incident occurred on January 24 at the unnamed victim’s middle school. Stacy Shenker, the boy’s mother, told NBC News that she received a phone call alerting her that he was injured. “Initially, we didn’t know what happened,” Shenker told NBC. “At that point, we had never heard of the prank.”
It wasn’t until her son was receiving treatment in the hospital that she learned that the viral challenge was involved. “Parents need to know about this because it could happen again,” she said to NBC. “It’s really opened our eyes to what is out there.
The Spread of the Skull Breaker Challenge
The “skull breaker” challenge has been a concern for parents ever since it originated on the social media app TikTok. Believed to have originated in Spain, the viral sensation has spread around the globe, leaving injured children in its wake.
Multiple stories have popped up in the US alone: In January a boy in Alabama fractured a wrist in the challenge, while another boy in Arkansas suffered a concussion, according to The Daily Beast. One account from the same source has an Arizona mother saying students laughed as her son’s “stiff unconscious body lay on the asphalt” following the challenge.
A Continuing Danger
In response to the incident, Cherry Hill Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Meloche sent a letter of warning to parents.
“Often, children act impulsively and without considering the consequence of their actions. If your child has an electronic device, ask them to share what apps they are viewing and using,” the letter read. “Help them to understand the extreme unintended outcomes that may occur because of a fleeting moment of making a bad choice.”
The two student suspects are being charged with third-degree aggravated assault as well as third-degree endangering an injured victim. Meanwhile, Shenker says her son continues to suffer concussion symptoms, per The Daily Beast.
“We don’t know what the long-term effects will be,” she said. “If he’s still lethargic in six to eight months, then we’ll know, but as with any brain injury, you just can’t predict what’s going to happen.”
Fortunately, the boy has returned to school with “academic accommodations,” and he is undergoing physical therapy with the goal of returning to sports, reports NBC News.