By Yasmin Tinwala
NOTE: MEAWW is only reporting on this dangerous trend, and under no circumstance do we encourage anyone to try it. In fact, we advise all our readers not to. If, however, you have an impressionable mind and easily succumb to suggestions, then please stop reading now.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: A nine-year-old Tennessee boy’s family has claimed that he died after participating in a TikTok challenge. LaTerius Smith Jr was found unresponsive on June 10 after participating in a “strangulation challenge” apparently prevalent on TikTok. The child’s family has been vocal about the dangers of these viral trends that seem to have claimed a lot of lives and caused a lot of harm to participants across the globe. For instance, 3-year-old Oregon girl Destini Crane was hospitalized with multiple third-degree burns after participating in the TikTok fire challenge.
Smith Jr was found unresponsive after participating in the TikTok challenge, the family has alleged. The boy’s family in various interviews has blamed the TikTok strangulation challenge, similar to the blackout challenge, for his death. The obituary for Smith Jr read, “TJ was a fun-loving, full of energy bundle of joy who touched many lives!! He loved his mother, father and his family as a whole. TJ loved God!! He enjoyed going to church!! He especially enjoyed going to church with his Great Grandmother Bobby Smith where he sang in the choir at Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church. WE, TRULY, HAVE BEEN TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL!!” Let’s take a look at the deadly challenge that allegedly killed the boy.
What is the TikTok strangulation challenge?
A spokesperson with TikTok said they’ve banned harmful challenges from their website. However, these things rear their ugly head at regular intervals claiming the lives of innocents who fall prey to the lure of completing the challenge. Smith Jr was found with a belt around his neck and he was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead.
The boy’s great, great-aunt Barbara Williams spoke to a news outlet saying, “You know, his life has ended because of some people putting stupid things on various sites.” She further said they happened to chance upon the video which she said was responsible for Smith Jr’s death. “It wasn’t until later on that we found out there was some type of video on TikTok, you know, letting kids know … how to strangle yourself,” Williams said. “But you got to get out of it, the challenge was to get out of it. But he’s 9 years old, he’s 9 years old, so how was he going to get out of it?” Williams added.
Smith Jr’s family now wants parents to monitor their kids, who will have more free time on their hands because of summer break. They want parents to place blocks on various social media sites and educate them about what harm could lie behind the screens their children spend so much time using.
“I know you can’t watch them 24 hours, but that in which you can do, you just have to save a life,” Williams said.
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