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Boredom is more dangerous than you may realize. It drives otherwise good people to hurt themselves and others. As history has shown us, kids are especially prone to dangerous behavior due to boredom, sometimes with deadly results.

Over the last two decades, kids have gotten involved in at least three “games” or “challenges” that have endangered themselves and others. The “Choking Game,” to which at least 82 children and adolescents lost their lives, has been around since the 90’s. Kids would choke each other or choke themselves with cords, nooses or similar objects just to feel the brief “high” from the rush of oxygen returning to them. Strangely enough, the kids who typically do this are good kids who don’t get themselves into trouble or do drugs.

More recently, the “Knockout Game” has been a problem for the players and more so for the victims. Kids would attack random strangers and try to knock them out with one punch. Some of these attackers have actually killed their victims (and been convicted), other victims fought back. Apparently these attacks happen because of boredom and peer pressure. Most recently, the “Fire Challenge” which involves kids setting themselves on fire, has of course hospitalized some and killed others. People apparently do this for laughs and internet fame.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that kids (and maybe adults, sometimes) can be driven to do dangerous, heinous, stupid things just because they don’t know what else to do with themselves. So, how do we prevent things like this? By giving kids something else to do with themselves. Keep them occupied with extracurriculars, community programs, anything that doesn’t involve dangerous and/or self-destructive behavior. Parents, talk to your kids about avoiding this kind of behavior, and keep an eye out for signs of physical abuse. There will probably always be some kind of dangerous, stupid fad that some kids will try out, but don’t resign to let your kids fall victim to one of them.