12-year-old Michigan boy set ablaze by friends for viral 'fire challenge' hospitalized after suffering severe second-degree burns
Cleary's son, Jason, was reportedly at a friend's house in Dearborn Heights on Saturday when they decided to take on what is popularly known on YouTube as the 'fire challenge'
DEARBORN HEIGHTS, MICHIGAN: A 12-year-old Michigan boy was left with second-degree burns after taking part in viral 'fire challenge'.
The child's mother is now speaking out about the dangers of viral internet challenges. Tabitha Cleary revealed that watching her son endure the pain was nothing short of "heartbreaking," reports People.
Cleary's son, Jason, was reportedly at a friend's house in Dearborn Heights on Saturday when they decided to take on what is popularly known on YouTube as the 'fire challenge'. It involves participants dousing themselves in inflammable substances before lighting each other on fire. This is then recorded and posted on the social media platform.
According to Jason, his friends lit him on fire twice. He described the first fire as a "little tiny fire" which was quickly swatted out.
“Then the second time, it [flared up] and they kept spraying it on me,” he said. “Once my dad finally opened the door and said, ‘Let’s go to the hospital’... I was in the backseat, still in much, much pain.”
Cleary, who knew something was wrong when she saw her son emerging from the house shirtless, revealed, "I immediately started to freak out, I’m like, ‘Take him to the hospital. Take him to the hospital!' I’m starting to cry... He’s crying.”
She now hopes to educate and warn other parents about the perils of dangerous challenges like this. “I just want everybody to know that these challenges, or whatever they’re watching on YouTube, is not worth risking your life. I mean, my son got burned second-degree, and it could’ve been way worse," she said.
Jason was released from the Children’s Hospital of Michigan after four days.
The 'fire challenge' has been around at least since 2014, but gained notoriety in August 2018 when the news of a 12-year-old girl in Detroit who burned half her body in an attempt to take part in the challenge made headlines.
“Monitor your kids, monitor what they’re doing,” her mother Brandi Owens had told PEOPLE at the time. “If you can get parental controls on their phones, I would recommend that... I hate having these memories. It’s something I never want to relive.”
YouTube cracked down on dangerous stunts such as the 'fire challenge' with a new set of policies in January that banned anything deemed harmful or dangerous. The video-sharing platform said at the time that users would have a two-month grace period to review their videos and remove anything that could be considered dangerous. After that, videos deemed harmful would receive a strike, and three strikes would lead to the removal of a channel.
The new policies was put in place after numerous other dangerous challenges such as the Cinnamon Challenge and the Tide Pod Challenge started speading on the platform.