Not Just Robotripping: 5 Risky Things Kids Do


"They went in the kid's closet and there was all sorts of paraphernalia," she said. "One of the things we say to parents, 'your kids' room should be your kids' room.' On the other hand, if you do see things like belts around or those plastic bags ... you need to address it right away."

Kaslow says parents can't live in denial, saying "my kid would never do this. I raised my child well. We come from a good family." But she sees that these parents, many of whom were Baby Boomers have no experience with this phenomenon.

"What they know about is alcohol and pot; they don't know from choking games."

Nicknames for the Choking Game

Blackout, fainting game, space monkey, dream game, suffocation, roulette, passout, flatliner, California high, airplaning, American dream, funky chicken, tingling and gasp.

Signs, according to GASP, that your child may be engaging in this practice

Any suspicious mark on the side of the neck, sometimes hidden by an upturned collar or turtleneck, or a scar.

Personality changes, such as aggression, agitation.

Presence of a strap, rope or belt lying near the child for no reason; with the child being elusive when asked about the object.

Headaches, loss of concentration, flushed face.

Bloodshot eyes.

Hearing a thud coming from the child's bedroom, or a thud against a wall, which could indicate the child is doing this alone.

Showing an interest in the effects, sensations or dangers of strangulation.

Talking to Your Kids

About 80 to 90 percent of parents say they talk to their children about drugs, yet only 33 percent of kids say their parents talk to them about drugs, according to figures cited by Pasierb. Youngsters who report learning a lot about drugs in their own homes are "half as likely to use as kids who don't get that," he said.

Parents may think they have little power over willful and sometimes defiant teens, but weighing in on drug abuse and saying the family won't stand for drug abuse "does have an impact," Pasierb said. Trouble is, parents who report talking to their kids about drugs tend to focus on illegal drugs like cocaine, marijuana and heroin, often are missing the point. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs "are a much more immediate threat to your child than illegal street drugs."

Dr. Eugene V. Beresin, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Mental Health and Media, says parents need to open lines of communication long before adolescence, and "create an atmosphere at home where kids can actually be responsible for themselves, understand what risks there are to behavior, and have an open relationship with their parents so they can ask questions."

Parents should actively inquire about what's happening with other teens their sons and daughters know. They should initiate these conversations "in between the cracks," such as when they're watching television together. Beresin tells parents they should have frank discussions in which they tell their teenage sons and daughters that some things that may seem cool "could be dangerous or even deadly.

"The question kids have to think about is what's dangerous? What's safe? What am I willing to risk?" Beresin said. "Kids need to have an ongoing feeling both of experimentation and curiosity, but at the same time, there has to be a sense of self-preservation and protection."

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