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Don’t try this at home

February 15, 2012
By Joyce Schenk - COLUMNIST ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Do you remember the stupid - often dangerous - stuff we did as kids?

If your mom was like mine, when I innocently reported some crazy stunt I had tried - since all my buddies were all doing it - she'd shake her head in exasperation and say, "God alone knows why you haven't killed yourself by now."

Seems in those days - as it has been down through the ages - kids simply loved to flirt with danger.

Recently, when we talked about our experiences during that long ago period of childhood foolishness, hubby George recalled his fascination with flying led him to jump off the garage roof time after time, testing various "wings" he was sure would keep him aloft.

He remembered one promising attempt he made using a discarded bed sheet as a parachute. In reporting the results of the ill-conceived experiment, he said with a laugh, "Unfortunately, the sheet was far too small."

The stupidest thing I remember doing was hanging out of the second story window of a neighbor's garage/barn by my knees. Afterward, I carefully avoided telling mom what I had done, but simply reported I was having pain in my legs and trouble walking. She was convinced I had contracted the polio that was affecting many children in those days.

Then there was the time I decided mom had overstated the danger of eating the green apples from Mr. Leavy's back yard tree. Since they were easily picked from the Leavy's garage roof - which, fortunately, was shielded from sight - it seemed a great way to feast on free apples uninterrupted.

That little escapade resulted in a long and miserable stomach rebellion which cured me for life of eating contraband apples. As I recall, when mom found me in the bathroom in the throes of "apple revenge," she left me alone to let the lesson sink in without comment.

Ah, what our mothers had to endure during those long-ago growing-up years.

Well, today's parents are dealing with far more dangerous stunts than the kind you and I used to attempt. According to a growing number of health care professionals, especially ER doctors, many of the problems can be traced to the Internet. Although it has brought an amazing wellspring of information in recent years, the Internet can also be a source of misinformation, poor taste and downright stupidity.

For instance, one ER doctor in a prominent New York hospital reported seeing a growing number of kids in his emergency room with injuries they sustained while copying YouTube stunts.

"With the internet, the whole world has become a stage for dangerous actions. And these kids think they're invincible," he said.

One recent example was the 10-year-old who watched a YouTube video showing in detail how to put ingredients into a bottle, then make it explode. The kid gleefully followed the demonstration - and his bottle blew up in his face.

As the doctor pointed out, many of the YouTube videos are performed by those who are in the stunt business. But, even though they carry the warning, "Don't try this at home," kids are determined to copy what they see.

The doctor summed up his warning to danger-seeking youngsters. He said, "The folks who do this stuff are really jackasses, but they're usually professional jackasses."



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