Mace’s Lane faces ‘Choking Challenge’

CAMBRIDGE — Two students were arrested last week at Mace’s Lane Middle School after choking other students unconscious. In what has become known at the “Choking Challenge,” a student comes up behind another, and places a forearm across that student’s throat.

The incidents on April 29 occurred at a time when Dorchester County’s public schools are facing widespread acts of violence. “We will not tolerate this type of behavior,” Principal Jymil Thompson said in an April 30 letter to parents that went home with every student.

Mr. Thompson said over the past several weeks, the school has experienced several unrelated incidents that have created security concerns.

“We are aware that a social media challenge may be behind several of these incidents,” he said in the letter. “Some of our children have been encouraged to choke each other to the point of passing out. I have directed by administrative team and staff to take appropriate and decisive action against any students who engage in behavior that places the safety of others at risk.”

Staff at the school will undergo education and training regarding the threats and responses to them.

Mr. Thompson urged parents to speak to their children regarding this issue and similar ones, “as there appear to be new types of challenges developing daily.”

Thomas Ferguson Jr. is the father of one of the victims. “My son is ok, but I’m mad as hell,” he wrote online. “Whoever it was just walked up behind him and choked him out. It’s all on video. It’s something they’re getting off the Internet.”

“I wish the children would understand it’s not a game and it’s assault and battery if not attempted murder,” said Omeakia Jackson, who works as a counselor for the public schools. “Going behind someone and choking them isn’t funny, it’s horrible. Those children are being seriously injured and can end up with life-altering injuries. I hope parents are having conversations with their children about the seriousness of this.”

Mr. Thompson spoke about the importance of community involvement, asking parents to consider joining the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization. “We need more parents/guardians and community members to become active in helping to support and ensure that Mace’s Lane Middle School remains a safe place for every single student.”

To learn about joining the PTO, call the school at 410-228-2111.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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