Over the years, the internet has created all kinds of crazy "challenges" that have ended up hurting people. From the Kylie Jenner lip challenge to something called the eraser challenge, people have unfortunately found insane ways to injure themselves for views and likes. But something called the "Hot Water Challenge" ups the ante and has already taken the life of at least one child and injured others.
The "challenge," if you want to call it that, isn't necessarily new. Mashable is reporting that it appears it first started on YouTube sometime back in 2013 or 2014. The challenge is very simple: a pot of water is boiled, and the challenge taker either pours it on themselves or onto the body of an unsuspecting person. It doesn't seem like the challenge caught on much initially—because duh, who wants to pour scalding-hot water that's over 200 degrees onto themselves?—but it has somehow turned into a thing in 2017 with a number of children suffering the consequences.
In early July, a 10-year-old North Carolina boy named Wesley Smith suffered second- and third-degree burns after attempting the challenge. He's reportedly now in need of skin graft surgery to repair the damage that was done.
About a month later, 11-year-old Jamoneisha Merritt's friends pulled the challenge on her, pouring boiling hot water on the child during a sleepover. She suffered burns on her face, neck, and chest, and while the girl thought the individuals who did this to her were her friends, it turns out that they did it maliciously.
"I was told that they didn't like her," her mother Ebony said, "and they just been bullying her. They've been on Snapchat. It's been going on several times. The girl admitted it. 'I don't like her. I wanted to do it.'"
One of the girls involved has been charged with felony assault following the incident.
But the worst of these stories is the tragic death of 8-year-old Florida resident Ki'Ari Pope, who died after her Hot Water Challenge attempt. She was reportedly dared by her cousins to drink boiling water through a straw back in March. Pope was initially given cold water and sent to bed after she did it, but she woke up with severe pains in her throat. Her injuries forced her to undergo a tracheotomy, which reportedly made Pope unable to talk. She died on July 31 due to her injuries.
So who is to blame for this unfortunate string of events involving young children? You could easily blame the adults in each of these instances. People is reporting that the incident involving Pope led to the 11th child services investigation into her family since 2008. But keep it 100: How much shit did you get into in plain sight when your parents were around?
Is it then a problem involving internet virality? That definitely played a role, but there's a question of how this challenge crept back into the pop lexicon. Most people are only now hearing about it after this latest string of injuries.
Kids in 2017 are pouring boiling water on eachother in the "Hot Water Challenge" what ever happened to just eating a ton of cinnamon?— Mike Michalski (@Mike2397) August 10, 2017
who would ever think that a "hot water challenge" would be a good idea? like legit— JeanTheBon (@jeanthebon) August 5, 2017
Just found out that a "hot water challenge" exists and currently have lost faith in humanity. Someone please restore it for me— Shanghai Sammy (@SamBarsamSam) August 10, 2017
So social media could bear the brunt of the responsibility. It may have made its debut on YouTube, but it now looks like many videos are being shared using the #hotwaterchallenge hashtag on Instagram, which could be how these kids found out about the trend. It could also be why the trend continues moving forward, despite how dangerous it is.
Whatever the case may be, we need to cancel this challenge. Pope's aunt said it best: "Parents, talk to your kids about these challenges. Don’t just give them your phone and let them go by. Watch what they are doing."
Cellphones and social media sessions need to be child-proofed so this kind of nonsense is avoided before other kids can do damage to themselves during a "challenge" that's just code for "easy way to hurt yourself."
And truth be told, maybe there needs to be some policing by the sites involved. Instagram and YouTube must have ways to silence these kinds of things before they turn into trends. There's no way that pouring hot water on oneself is going to feel good, and if the only people really getting hurt are kids, maybe the best way to curb these "challenges" is to get rid of them before they take even more lives.