BAMBERG — Erik Robinson was a typical sixth-grader, an “A” student, avid athlete and Boy Scout. The dream of the California youth to enter the military ended on April 10, 2010.
Bamberg School District 1 is holding an information seminar about a deadly “game” authorities say has claimed at least 82 children since it’s been recognized.
Youth call it the “choking” or “fainting” game, and it’s anything but a game. School officials say it’s one among many risky behaviors that children are becoming involved in that can result in serious brain injury or even death.
The seminar is being held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Richard Carroll Elementary School cafeteria. There is no admission and all concerned caregivers are urged to attend.
School officials say they’re holding the class in the wake of the death of a student who may have been playing the game. It’s not confirmed the choking game was involved, and school officials want to remain respectful toward the teen’s family.
Officials say they want to create awareness of the dangerous game to prevent any needless deaths.
Denise Miller, intervention coordinator at Richard Carroll Elementary School, said authorities have found the activity is popular among pre-teens and up.
“It’s called the good kid’s high,” she said. “It’s when children get a high by choking each other.”
The problem, officials say, is shutting off air to the brain to create a rush can lead to death in some cases.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence that since 1995 at least 82 youths between the age of 6 and 19 have been confirmed as victims of the activity in the United States.
The study found that of those 82 deaths, 86 percent were male while the average age is just over 13 years old. The study says more than 95 percent of the fatalities happened while the youths were alone.
The CDC study also discovered that in those deaths, 92 percent of parents were unaware of the deadly game.
But those statistics may not be telling the entire story, as many of these types of deaths are classified as suicides.
Often the children who participate in the activity are intelligent youths from loving families who also do well in school, Miller said.
Some of the seminar’s materials will come from the website Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play, or GASP, an organization with the goal of ending the game via awareness. GASP simply calls it “an asphyxiation activity that causes the needless death of children and suffering of communities.” Based in Wisconsin, the group advocates knowledge on the part of parents and children.
Miller said knowledge is part of the problem. Few tweens and teens, whether participating in the activity or not, know precisely what can happen.
“There so much misinformation about the game,” she said. “Some of them think it makes you stronger, bigger.”
The GASP website takes the position that educating and creating awareness does not promote the activity. They say it is a misconception that providing information teaches children the potentially deadly activity.
“Most children already know about the choking game, yet very few understand the inevitable danger,” the site states. “None of our materials show children how to play, and we take an active stance against any organization that teaches the game as part of their message.”
Other educational materials to be used by Bamberg school officials Tuesday include information found on Erikscause.org, the web site founded by Erik Robinson’s parents, who say there is credible evidence to suggest Erik died during his first experience playing the choking game.
Miller said other potentially deadly “games” being played by today’s youth will be discussed during the seminar as well. Informative tips on computer safety will be offered.
For more information, call school officials at 803-245-3030.
Contact the writer: 803-533-5516 and rwalker@timesanddemocrat. Follow Walker on Twitter at @RWalkerTandd for insight on the cops beat.