Concerns over online challenges trend after Bronx girl doused with boiling water

THE BRONX – It’s been a long road to recovery for Jamoneisha Merritt.

Despite being in high spirits Thursday at a block party where dozens came out in her honor, it was just over 2 weeks ago when the 11-year-old suffered horrific burns to her face after a friend dumped boiling water on her as part of a twisted online challenge.

It’s called the “hot water challenge,” and it has sent teens across the country to the hospital.

In the case of Florida girl Ki’ari Pope, the 8-year-old girl was dared to sip boiling water through a straw. After suffering extensive damage to her esophagus and windpipe, she died 5 months later.

Online challenges are a dime a dozen.

From the light-hearted “Ice Bucket Challenge” which raised awareness for ALS, to the reckless and dangerous duct tape challenge, choking game and fire challenge, to name a few.

The dangers challenges have ended in life-altering injuries.

“The judgment teenagers have unfortunately is not a very wise one, very often,” Dr. Kathryn Smerling, a family therapist, told PIX11 News.

According to Dr. Smerling, parents should never assume their child fully grasps the concept of cause and effect.

“There has to be more of an open rapport and a discussion of what is risky behavior and what is not,” she explained. “It’s the same thing as doing drugs.”

For Bronx mother Marisa Mitchell, Jamoneisha’s horrific ordeal should serve as a life lesson for her 10-year-old son Stefan.

“You know he has choices to make and he wouldn’t want to hurt people along the way because he will get punished for that,” she said.

Merritt considers herself one of the lucky ones. Doctors have described her recovery as miraculous – an outcome that’s usually not the case with these consequential online challenges.