Teens love nothing more than a challenge. At an age where they’re exploring the world and testing their boundaries, courage and stupidity are often confused. Whether it’s the classic “Truth or Dare” or replicating the antics and stunts of the TV sensation Jackass, no teen wants to appear too scared to take on a challenge.
But this “bravery” and the lack of judgement that goes with it doesn’t just lead to a lot of silly actions that become a source of embarrassment if caught on camera. They can also have disastrous consequences, as was shown by a tragic story from Arkansas a couple of years ago.
Nickolas Conrad, from Sherwood, Arkansas, was 15 years old at the time and was at a sleepover with six of his friends from school. He fell asleep, but some of his “buddies” woke up in the early hours of the morning and decided to play a trick on him.
Only the prank that they chose, which was trending on YouTube at the time, was potentially deadly. The challenge took different forms, including drinking scalding hot water out of a straw or as was the case for Conrad, dumping boiling water on a unsuspecting victim.
One minute Conrad was asleep, the next, as he told KTHV in Little Rock: “it was the worst pain of my life.” He had absolutely no idea that his friends had been thinking about doing this and was completely shocked. “I felt this really bad burning on my neck and when I woke up and I started screaming and crying.”
Conrad ended up in the hospital with 1st- and 2nd-degree burns on his neck, the latter of which can take up to three weeks to heal and leave serious scars. Thankfully, he learned his lesson about hanging out with the kind of kids who would jump off a cliff if someone dared them to (or at least push one of their friends off).
As Conrad told KHTV, he felt lucky that the injuries hadn’t been worse. “I just want them to leave me alone. They’re not my friends anymore and they’re not going to be.”
His mom Mickey Conrad stressed the importance of parents taking action to prevent such tragedies from happening. Her message to other parents was “don’t ever say, ‘My child won’t do that.'” Instead of trusting that their kid would be different, “educate them.”
Conrad was definitely lucky to have made it out with the burns he had. If the water had splashed on his eyes, he might have gone blind. Or even worse, if his friends had poured the water down his throat, he could have died like 8-year-old Ki’ari Pope in Florida.
This young girl was dared by her cousin to take the boiling-water challenge and drank it through a straw. The wounds she sustained to her trachea and esophagus led to her death after months in the hospital.
Ki’ari Pope’s aunt, Diane Johnson, echoed the warning that Conrad’s mother gave about these kinds of challenges in comments to WPEC in West Palm Beach. “Don’t just let it go by and just give them your phone and let them be. No. Watch what they’re watching.”
Despite all the press about how dangerous the challenge was, it continued to surface across the United States, badly wounding preteens and teenagers. Earlier this year, during the harsh temperatures of the polar vortex, a new form emerged.
Some people posted videos of “scientific experiments” that involved throwing boiling water up into the air to see if it would freeze in the negative-degree temps. While it might have looked cool, burn units in Chicago-area hospitals were reporting patients with scalding on their “feet, arms, hands, face, and varying degrees of burns, as well,” per CNN.
Somehow, the message still doesn’t seem to have gotten out. If you throw boiling water at or even near people, someone is going to get burned, no matter what the outside temperature. The next time someone dares your kids, just show them the videos in this article. Hopefully, seeing will be believing.