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FOX 11 Special Report: Trouble For Teens

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TRUE CRIME STORIES - TROUBLE FOR TEENS: In this edition of True Crime stories we look at teen behaviors that can ruin and even end lives.

1) THE CHOKING GAME: It's all over websites like Youtube. Videos showing teens how to play "The Choking Game." But it isn't a game. It cost one local boy his life. We'll hear from his Mother and find out what's being done to stop this deadly game.

2) THE CHOKING GAME PT2: Mother Judy Rogg and Psychologist Stephanie Small are on a campaign to end "The Choking Game" before it ends another life. They started a program for schools to teach teens (and younger) about the dangers.

3) STEUBENVILLE RAPE CASE: Robin and Gina discuss a rape case that is tearing the community of Steubenville, Ohio apart. The case involves a girl who drank too much, and other teenagers who raped and abused her. Others are abusing her even today with posts that crack jokes about what happened.

ERIK'S CAUSE – HELP STOP THE CHOKING GAME

by Judy Rogg

www.erikscause.org

"Even Smart Strong Kids Can Make Dumb Choices With Deadly Consequences"

Pass-out games, most commonly known as "The Choking Game," have been around for centuries.  Unlike auto-erotic asphyxiation (AeA), teens and tweens have been experimenting with this for non-sexual reasons (e.g., curiosity, peer pressure, the mistaken belief that it is safer than drugs) because they are unaware of the dangers.  This generations-old issue has seen a recent resurgence as a result of You Tube making the internet a virtual cyber-playground.  Kids learn this deadly activity from other kids all across the world and believe from other kids that it is harmless.  They lack effective education to combat what they hear on the web, putting them all at risk.

Some of the biggest dangers that distinguishes The Choking Game from other risky activities is that (1) it is legal; (2) it does not require acquisition of a product; (3) it can be "played" alone; and (4) because it interrupts basic brain function it is impossible to know when a person will pass out or when damage or death will occur.  It is an equal-opportunity danger – it knows no racial, cultural, religious or socio-economic boundaries.

While various studies estimate 6 – 16% of teens have participated in pass-out games, anecdotal reports indicate the numbers to be much higher.  Numerous articles cite The Choking Game as one of the top dangerous behaviors parents need to be aware of, e.g., (1) http://www.greatschools.org/parenting/4503-dangerous-teen-trends.gs and (2) http://www.parentsociety.com/parenting/parents-beware-11-dangerous-teenage-trends-all-parents-should-know-about/01/ 

Statistically it has been considered an aberration because the numbers of deaths and injuries attributed to The Choking Game appear small, hence unimportant.  However, statistics do not tell the story.  There is no death code for The Choking Game, nor are there injury codes for Choking Game injuries.  In addition to a lack of codes to correctly gather statistics, there are no standardized ways for law enforcement to call it.  Most Choking Game deaths are misclassified as suicides and injuries are rarely reported.  Even when law enforcement makes the correct determination, many families bear their grief in silence because of shock and shame, "How could my child have done something so stupid?  What was s/he thinking?" 

Erik Robinson is one such victim of The Choking Game.  He died in April 2010 at the age of 12 in Santa Monica just one day after he learned about it from a schoolmate at Lincoln Middle School.  Erik's family was ready to bear his blindsiding death in baffling silence and shame.  The police were adamant Erik died from The Choking Game, not suicide.  Although Erik's family knew he was the antithesis of a suicidal profile, they could not believe he would do something so ridiculous.  Publically they said Erik died from a tragic accident until one schoolmate came forward and corroborated what the police maintained.  Shortly thereafter, Judy was approached by a reporter because of rumors that Erik had been cyber-bullied into suicide.  Judy was so incensed that she decided to go public with the truth.  Thus began the journey now known as Erik's Cause.

Erik's Cause has created an exceptional skill-based training program that addresses the dangers of The Choking Game in a way that does not make kids curious to try it and also builds character skills to help kids say "no" to risk-taking behavior in general.  The training is standardized and can be easily replicated.

Decades ago talk of substance abuse prevention in schools was unthinkable.  Recently bullying was a taboo subject until it gained national attention.  We believe the time has come to bring The Choking Game out of the shadows and into public awareness so our children can be saved from this epidemic and families can be spared the grief of losing a child to this preventable activity.

For further information, please visit us at www.erikscause.org.  Erik's Cause is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.  All donations are tax deductible. 

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