Son's Social Media Prank Leaves Mom in Tears

Jason Cleary, 12, let a friend set him on fire
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2019 12:55 PM CDT

A Michigan mom says it started with screaming. Tabitha Cleary's 12-year-old son, Jason, was visiting a friend's place Saturday when she heard the sound, NBC News reports. "So we came running out. That's when we saw his friend Bryce riding him on the bike with no shirt on," she tells WDIV Detroit. "I start to freak out. 'Take him to the hospital, take him to the hospital.' I'm crying. He's crying." That's because Jason had just suffered second-degree burns to his stomach, chest, and chin after trying a social media stunt called the "fire challenge"—which his friend helped with by spraying him with nail polish remover and lighting it on fire. And it wasn't the first time they'd tried it.

"The first time it was like a little tiny fire, then they swatted it out," Jason says. "Second time, they kept spraying it on me." People quotes him as adding, "Once my dad finally opened the door and said, 'Let's go to the hospital' … I was in the backseat, still in much, much pain." The highly dangerous stunt has come up before: A boy in Queens, New York, set himself on fire with rubbing alcohol in 2016, and last year a Detroit girl endured second- and third-degree burns that required two months of hospital recovery. YouTube said in January it planned to weed out dangerous prank and challenge videos, naming the fire challenge as a prime example. They "have no place on YouTube," the company said. (One "heartless" prank put a YouTuber in jail.)

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