ALARM bells are ringing with Gloucester parents as the latest social media ‘nek nomination’ craze threatens to spiral out of control.
Daring friends to down pints of alcohol has become a viral sensation on Facebook. But some youngsters looking to take the mad stunt one step too far could be getting more than they bargained for.
It started as a rugby club style drinking game in Australia. Now those taking part are posting online videos of themselves downing pints of spirits - or even bleach, animal blood and bodily fluids. The RSPCA is trying to find one man who drank a goldfish.
Jamie Elsmore, manager of Berry Hill RFC in the Forest of Dean, is worried someone could get seriously ill as a result of the sick game.
“I’m surrounded by it,” he said. “I’m looking after 25-year-olds who are all doing it and it’s really worrying.
“It started as a bit of a joke but it’s got really dangerous now – some of the stuff they are being requested to drink is ridiculous.
“I’ve heard of it even including methylated spirits and one guy had dog food mixed in. They are putting their health at risk and it has got to stop.”
Peer pressure is blamed as the driving force behind the dangerous game that has seen at least four UK deaths as a result.
Parents here want youngsters to think for themselves, before getting involved.
Sarah, 21, from Cinderford, who did not want her full name printed, took part after being nominated by friends.
“It is just a bit of fun and banter on Facebook,” she said.
“I did it on the weekend. I was nominated by my friend to drink a pint of Frosty Jack cider mixed with wine, Strongbow, tomato sauce, biscuits and squash. I felt ok afterwards, I don’t see anything wrong with it.
“It is up to the individual, they know how much drink they can handle.You can just say no if you want to.
"Some people have gone too far. I have seen someone drink a pint with urine and other bodily fluids in.
“The problem is when younger people get involved. Parents should stop them and step in.”
A parent of teenagers, who is also a youth development manager in a Gloucester rugby club said the game’s popularity has coincided with the huge boom in social media.
He said: “As a parent it concerns me that boys and girls of 10 use social media nearly every minute of their day to communicate with friends and family.
“Nek nomination seems to be even more prevalent as the weeks move on. I’m concerned boys and girls who are trying to keep up with their peer group will become more daring, which could subsequently result in hospital treatment or even be fatal .
“From a junior rugby aspect, as coaches, we encourage the boys to stay close to each other and have fun outside of the club environment.
“This builds the team ethic and you see them grow in confidence. But sometimes this can get out of hand because of the one-up-man-ship and not wanting to be different.
“It is really down to the parents, coaches and rugby club committees to highlight the dangers in this recent fad to make sure their child, player or club member don’t fall foul of this reckless craze.
“I’m aware of several local clubs who have already warned players both junior and senior.
“I don’t see this as a mission to stop young people using social media, because that will not happen.
“But I really honestly believe it is an awareness issue and parents must realise the dangers.”