Dangerous "games" that may harm kids and teens

  • It's back-to-school time, and for many kids that means back on the bus. Experts say the school bus is by far the safest way for kids to get to school. Between 1994 and 2004, there were only 71 bus passenger deaths, according to WebMD. During the same period, traffic accidents involving cars and light trucks racked up almost 32,000 deaths. But that doesn't mean the bus is risk-free. Here are nine safety tips from the New York Governor's Traffic Safety Committee. istockphoto

    school bus, kids, children, happy, smiling

    A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down, but a spoonful of cinnamon is an entirely different story.

    It sounds like something you'd see on the television show, "Iron Chef", only the innocent-sounding "cinnamon challenge" poses an alarming number of risks for kids and teens who take it on. Over the past few months, emergency rooms and poison control centers across the country have been flooded with calls from panicked parents and concerned school nurses about this prevalent trend.

    Cinnamon isn't the only ingredient that kids are challenging. Milk, marshmallows, and even water can stimulate kids' competitive edge. To parents who are concerned about their kids taking part in risky "games," try to understand the reasons why these games may seem appealing, advises Jill Weber, a Virginia-based clinical psychologist. "There's always some underlying motivator," she said. "If it's a lack of stimulation or novelty [in your child's life], try and channel that into sports or other, healthier activities."

    [See: Home Safety: Hidden Risks to Children]

    If you suspect that your kid is playing these games, keep your cool. "Parents who panic should pause and understand that kids who do this aren't usually doing it regularly," says Weber. If you do confront your child, "You don't want to be too punitive. You want to be the kind of parent who your teen can talk to about this. Otherwise, they'll rebel." Weber recommends using a news report or article to jumpstart the conversation.

    To help families get ahead of the game, Miriam Weiner at U.S. News Health offers some of the most popular ways in which kids are risking their health by challenging each other...