Kids do Stupid Things

Kid eating a Tide Pod

Kid eating a Tide Pod
Teenagers have always displayed risky behavior. In the 1950’s they did stupid things in and on their cars. They stood on the hood, they mooned other cars, and sometimes they engaged in make-shift drag races. By the end of the decade, cramming into phone booths was all the rage on college campuses, and during the free love 1960’s, some teens felt empowered to smoke weed and disrobe at rock concerts. In the 1970’s and ’80’s, self-administered body piercings became a sign of rebellion, and, according to a Harvard University study, in the early 1990’s binge drinking became the nation’s number one health problem among college students. Clearly, these kinds of activities presented a risk to health and safety, but for sheer stupidity, none can hold a candle to some of the things kids have been doing in recent years.

According to, some of today’s more popular stunts include drinking a cocktail made of hand sanitizer and mouthwash. Another activity involves choking your partner until he or she blacks out. Then there’s the Cinnamon Challenge, where kids swallow large quantities of dry cinnamon powder. Sounds harmless, but according to, the National Institutes of Health says the Cinnamon Challenge can result in collapsed lungs. Another modern day teen pastime is the Tide Pod Challenge, where stupid kids put the detergent-filled pods in their mouth, then chew them up. This despite the fact that, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, ingesting Tide Pods can cause chemical burns, and induce seizures and coma.

And that brings me to the Kiki Challenge which went viral earlier this year. The Kiki Challenge requires the participant to jump out of a moving car, dance to the strains of Drake’s “In My Feelings”, then jump back into the moving car. On July 23, 18-year-old Anna Worden of Bettendorf Iowa, took the Kiki Challenge, and ended up in hospital with a fractured skull, blood clots in the ear, and bleeding in the brain. “I thought it would be fun,” she told a TV news reporter. That same week, a 19-year-old boy in Alabama took the Kiki challenge and was also seriously injured.

These and other dangerous activities have been on the rise over the past decade. For example, reports that in 2013, an 18-year-old Georgia boy took a dare and drowned after he was tied to a shopping cart, then pushed into a lake. That same year a 19-year-old boy caused a multi-car accident when he fainted from holding his breath while driving through a tunnel in Portland, Oregon. There are a number of theories as to why such dangerously stupid behavior is so rampant. One is that older teens have been inspired by watching re-runs of MTV’s “Jack Ass” Another theory is that kids just want to be seen by millions of people on Youtube. But Dr. Katherine Ramsland, of DeSales University, believes it is more related to peer pressure. She told Psychology Today, “They [teens] look for novelty and are easily influenced by the latest trends, and by their need to belong to the in-group. They use dares to build their self-esteem.”

Clearly teen stunts have become decidedly and deliberately more dangerous than ever before. At the same time, 18- and 19-year-olds want to be treated like adults, but adults don’t eat detergent or jump out of moving cars. Instead, we adults do more mature things, like smoke cigarettes, over-eat, drive drunk, and get addicted to opioids. Come to think of it, I guess there’s no age restriction on stupidity.


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