A new viral social media trend called the “Skull-Breaker Challenge” has found its way into Cayman’s schools and parents are being warned to advise their children against it.
Last week, video surfaced on several social media platforms showing students at the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre preforming the challenge.
In the video, three male students are seen standing side-by-side. The student in the middle jumps, but, before he can land, his feet are knocked out from under him by the other two students beside him. He tumbles down to the ground as the other two run off in separate directions, as the 40-second clip ends.
Obinna Eleweanya, a physician with the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority, said when he first saw the video, he was shocked. “I wasn’t sure about the authenticity of the video,” he said. “I immediately sent it to my son and told him not to participate in it.”
Having practised as a physician in multiple emergency rooms over nearly 25 years,
Eleweanya told the Cayman Compass, he has seen several “freak accidents” happen from simple everyday activities.
“I tend to be more paranoid as a parent,” he said. “This challenge is very, very dangerous for the children involved.” Eleweayna said it is dangerous because it circumvents the body’s emergency reflex actions, and the potential injuries will depend on several variable circumstances.
“By kicking away the feet before the person lands, the element of surprise causes the person’s instinctual reflexes not to kick in,” Eleweayna said. “The body’s natural reflex is to try to minimise the impact of the fall, and subsequent injury to internal organs.”
The severity of the injuries depends, on several factors, such as an individual’s age and weight, coupled with the height of the fall and the surface that breaks the fall.
“These variables will ultimately determine the effect of the fall,” said Eleweayna. “In young persons, the skeletal system is still in the process of growing, and so the bones are still not fused, which makes them vulnerable.”
Additionally, he said, because the person’s feet are swept out from under them, they are more likely to land on the upper part of their body – potentially on the neck or head.
“This could lead to internal injuries to vital organs such as the brain and the lungs,” he said.
“There could also be damage to the neck. There is a great chance of moderate-to-serious long-lasting injury occurring”
Eleweayna said parents should warn their children against participating in the challenge. Cayman Compass reached out to CIFEC and the Department of Education Services for comment.
Questions were unanswered by press time about efforts to dissuade students from participating in the challenge, as well as to educate parents about the potential dangers.
A spokesperson for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said that if the victim of a skull-breaking challenge was caught unaware, and/or was unwilling to participate, and is injured in the process, a multi-agency decision will be made to determine the outcome.
Depending on the severity of the injury, the parties involved could be charged with assault and/or committing a negligent or reckless act.