The VIPD and St. Croix Unity Foundation put together a community forum Thursday at the Patrick Sweeny Pavilion on the dangers of so-called “challenges” aimed at thrill-seeking teens.
Such practices turn up on social media showing people doing potentially harmful acts that can even kill. The Virgin Islands Police Department had a recent report of a local teenage girl being rushed to Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital for treatment after doing the “pass out challenge” that resulted in her having seizures.
The pass out challenge is when someone bends over, hyperventilates, stands up quickly, and then another person pushes on their chest until they pass out.
Organizers referred to a number of other such stunts, some of which supposedly can lead to a euphoric high.
Melody Rames, VIPD public information officer, said when she heard about the local girl her heart just dropped. She said kids seem to think such risk-taking is better than indulging in drugs and alcohol.
“This is something people need to listen to when kids through youthful ignorance participate in their own death,” Rames said. “We need to educate people. A lot of parents have no idea this is going on.”
“The pass out challenge on Facebook gives step-by-step details,” said Denise Lewis, president of the St. Croix Unity Coalition. “This is really disturbing to me.”
She said she spent three days reporting it to Facebook, which finally took it down. But she warned in may well reappear.
“We have to nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand here,” she added. “It does trickle down from the mainland.”
VIPD Deputy Chief Arthur Hector said monitoring what children do and see on the computer is essential.
“There’s a lot going on out there that parents don’t know about that leads to destruction,” Hector said. “It’s critical to constantly check what kids are doing.” He said that anyone taking part in the challenges could be charged with an offense.
Eleyce Flemming, a junior at St. Croix Educational Complex, said she is going to talk to her peers about the problems with doing these "challenges."
“All teens want to have fun,” Flemming said. “We get bored.” She said she would challenge her peers to read a book, finish school and not get pregnant before finishing school.
Gary Malloy, superintendent of St. Croix school district, attended the forum and said he was going to do his part to get the information out to the schools.
Jennifer Abraham, director of Student Services, and Renee Hansen, Safe Schools program manger from the Department of Education, also attended. Abraham said she will talk to parents about the challenges when they register their children for school.
Sen. Sammuel Sanes said he would spread the word in the Hispanic community.
Eric Thomas, a volunteer at Weed and Seed, was on hand as well as Gloria Small, youth minister at Speak the Word Ministries. Malik Stridiron from Ten Thousand Helpers spoke to the group about challenges he has heard of on St. Croix.
In a statement, Rames urged parents to sit down with their children and find out how much they know about these challenges and if they have discussed these activities with their peers. Parents should emphasize the dangers associated with participating, or even being a bystander, to one of these events.
For more information contact Rames at email@example.com or Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.