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Michigan Boy Suffers Second Degree Burns in ‘Fire Challenge’

By Wire Service Content

A 12-year-old Michigan boy is recovering from second degree burns after being set ablaze in what is being described as a social media challenge.

Tabitha Cleary of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, told a reporter for CNN affiliate WDIV that her son, Jason Cleary, suffered second degree burns to his chin, chest, and stomach after he was set on fire at a friend’s house.

“I just want everybody to know that these challenges, or whatever they’re watching on YouTube, is not worth your risking your life,” Cleary said. “My son got burned second degree, and it could have been way worse.”

Her son’s injuries are thought to be due to the “fire challenge” in which children pour a flammable liquid like rubbing alcohol on themselves, and then ignite it. Videos of such attempts have been making their way around YouTube for several years.

Cleary told WDIV that she heard her son screaming outside, after his friend brought him to their door on his bicycle.

“And I immediately started to freak out, ‘Take him to the hospital, take him to the hospital!'” she said. “I’m starting to cry, he’s crying.”

Michigan boy suffers second degree burns in 'fire challenge'
Michigan boy suffers second degree burns in “fire challenge.” (CNN)

Jason told WDIV that his burns came from the second fire of the day, sparked by nail polish remover.

“The first time it was like, a little tiny fire. Then they swatted it off,” he said, “The second time it engulfed, and they kept spraying it on me.”

His parents rushed him to the hospital.

A spokesperson for Children’s Hospital of Michigan would not confirm the boy’s treatment to CNN Monday, citing hospital policy to not comment on pediatric patients.

Dearborn Heights police confirmed that they are investigating the matter, but would not comment further.

“Because of the ages of the individuals involved, I am unable to provide any details other than we will be coordinating with child protective services to assure the safety of all persons involved,” Captain Mark Meyers told CNN.

Tabitha Cleary did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for further comment.

Jason is not the first to be injured in the so-called “fire challenge.”

The “fire challenge” started as early as 2012 when one of the first fire challenge videos called “fire challenge” was uploaded to YouTube on April 5, 2012, showing a person lighting his chest hair on fire.

About a year ago, a 12-year-old Detroit girl burned nearly 50 percent of her body after attempting the “fire challenge.” The girl spent nearly two months in the hospital after suffering second- and third-degree burns doing the “challenge.”

Dr. Devorah Heitner, an expert on young people’s relationship with digital media and technology, and the author of “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World” told “USA Today” that most kids do not engage in such dangerous behavior.

“It could be that that kid is more isolated and has something to prove to peers,” Heitner said on the talk show.

By Taylor Romine and Evan Simko-Bednarski, CNN

Ella Kietlinska contributed to this report

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