A Fatal Game
By Rosario Torres
rik Robinson was an only child. His mother Judy Rogg describes him as a healthy boy who was an “A” student, avid athlete and Boy Scout. He had dreams of joining the military, then pursuing a career in law enforcement. The night before he died, he received a Senior Patrol Award for Outstanding Leadership in Boy Scouts. His dreams and hopes ended when he decided to play the choking game.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the choking game is defined as self strangulation or strangulation by another person with the hands or a noose to achieve a brief high from loss of oxygen to the brain.
From 1995 to 2007, the CDC has reported 82 deaths caused by the choking game.
The choking game has become a trend amongst youth. Videos of kids playing the choking game can be found online. Youth can be unaware that the choking game can cause injuries such as brain damage or even death. Families have lost members due to this unsafe game.
Robinson, a 12-year-old boy from Santa Monica, California, was exposed to the game during school the day before he tried it at home and passed away, leaving his parents, family and community in grief.
When police approached Judy Rogg, Robinson's mother, at the hospital with the news that her son’s death was caused by the choking game, she was flabbergasted.
“I was convinced that the police were crazy and that Erik was too smart and responsible to try something so stupid,” said Rogg.
Rogg was reluctant to accept the fact that her son had fell victim to the choking game until a classmate claimed he witnessed Robinson playing the game with another boy at school.
Rogg created the website www.erikscause.org to honor her son’s legacy and further educate families about the choking game. She also has a program that is skills-based to provide knowledge and awareness to kids.
“Our message is slowly starting to get out there in the news. Schools are beginning and willing to listen and see how they can promote awareness,” Rogg said.
“It’s sad, kids are hurting themselves,” said Lincoln School Police Officer Mr.Flores. “I have kids of my own. If they decided to play this game, it’s not okay.”
Flores believes the choking game is similar to play fighting and should have consequences such as a one day suspension and parent conference. “If it [the game] leads to death, a student can be charged with murder,” Flores said. “If a student became a vegetable after the injury, parents might file a lawsuit.”
Flores is aware of other dangerous behaviors students engage in on campus, but the choking game is news to him. “My father always told me ‘you never stop learning even as an adult’,” he said. In an effort to prevent the choking game from being practiced on campus, Flores is taking the initiative of suggesting to the new lead principal, Ms. O, that it should be in the student handbook. Stating that choking games will not be tolerated.
Rogg understands it can be very hard to say no to friends when there is pressure to do what everyone else is doing. She advises kids to tell their friends that they should do more checking into it before they try it, tell a trusted adult, or not to hang out with friends who play the choking game. There is a page on Rogg’s website titled “For Kids” that discusses how to say no.
She advises parents not to be afraid to have talks with their kids. “Don’t assume your kid is smart enough that he or she won’t do something so stupid,” said Rogg.
“Don’t wait for an accident or injury to happen at your school,” said Rogg. She doesn’t want schools to fear that they might promote the behavior by teaching awareness.
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