I saw the pictures in Tuesday’s paper (Aug. 19) depicting Brenau University participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge. I was very upset to see this type of behavior being promoted as a fundraiser by ALS or Brenau.
Just last week, The Times ran an article about the “fire challenge” that has recently gained popularity. The fire challenge involves someone putting a liquid containing alcohol (such as Axe spray or hand sanitizer) on their skin and lighting it to see how long they can watch it burn before extinguishing it. This has led to serious injury and arrests.
I have seen elementary through high school students participate in the eraser challenge where a pencil eraser is rubbed repeatedly on the arm to create a burn, and the salt and ice challenge where salt and ice is applied simultaneously to the skin to create a burn. These all potentially create scars that are permanent.
Another is the pass-out challenge where someone bends over and breathes in 20 times, then stands upright quickly and hands are placed around the neck to make the person pass out. All of these challenges are the result of someone being challenged to participate.
This latest ice bucket challenge has gained much popularity among middle and high school students, and is a form of intimidation and coercion to gain compliance. All of these challenges involve the person who is participating experiencing an intense physical sensation that is tolerated. This is a terrible message to send to our youth that one challenge is OK because it is for a cause, but the others are not.
Most of our young people do not have the mental maturity or judgment to differentiate what is safe or not because their adult judgment does not fully mature until their mid-20s. Many students with scars have told me later they wished they had not given in to the pressure to participate in the challenge. Our adults should recognize this as possibly promoting other challenges that are unsafe. This challenge also promotes intimidation, coercion and behaviors that may be associated with bullying face-to-face and on the Internet if someone does not choose to participate.
It is my desire that parents talk to their children and warn them of the dangers of such challenges and not let this publicity stunt as a fundraiser be seen as harmless.
Guy W. Jordan