Dubai - The challenge has reportedly injured teenagers around the world.
The Ministry of Education has warned students against playing a dangerous online prank that has gone viral on social media platform TikTok. Arabic media quoted a ministry source as saying that safety officers at public schools have been instructed to monitor students closely to ensure they are not taking part in what is known as the 'skull breaker challenge'.
The challenge has reportedly injured teenagers in Canada and other parts of the world. It involves tricking an unsuspecting friend or acquaintance into jumping in the air for a video. While airborne, the victim's legs are yanked from under him, making the person fall back flat on the ground.
A TikTok spokesperson responded to the spread of the challenge.
"The safety and well-being of our users is a top priority at TikTok. As we make clear in our Community Guidelines, we do not allow content that encourages, promotes or glorifies dangerous challenges that might lead to injury. We will remove any such reported content," the spokesperson said.
Dubai Police also issued a statement against the challenge, warning students not to get involved in such dangerous activities.
Brigadier Saeed Hamad bin Sulaiman Al Malik, Director of Al Rashidiya Police Station in Dubai and head of the School Security initiative, said that the force works with the Ministry of Education to ensure the safety and security of students.
A doctor in the UAE has warned that the dangerous prank can result in life-threatening injuries.
Dr Srinivas Janga, specialist neurosurgeon at Prime Hospital, said if someone falls with his head hitting the ground, "there is a risk of injury to the skull bones which can lead to life-threatening brain haemorrhage". It could also cause life-threatening fractures.
The doctor said the fall can injure the back bone. "It can lead to paralysis of both lower limbs, which may lead to irreversible damage despite the best medical and surgical management.
"Falling over butts may lead to tail bone fracture, leading to neurological deficits like bowel and bladder incontinence."
Dr Rahul Shivadey, Orthopaedic surgeon, Zulekha Hospital Dubai, said this is truly very dangerous prank to play on anybody.
"As the person it totally unawares of what is going to happen his focus is only on the act . Falling in such a manner can cause severe occipital damage and lead to temporary blindness as the visual centre's are located in the posterior or back side of the brain. The person can sustain a severe concussion injury and sometimes intracranial bleeding leading to unconsciousness," he said.
"A severe form of injury leading to instant death can be due to cervical cord injury caused due to direct impact or a whiplash injury to the cervical spine as the cardiac and respiratory centers of the body are located in that area. Anyways this prank has very serious repercussions and has to be completely discouraged by spreading awareness amongst all," added Dr Shivadey.
Teens question 'stupid stunt'
Teenagers told Khaleej Times they would discourage their peers from trying out such 'stupid challenges'. "This new trend has 'so-called' friends putting each other in easily avoidable risk. Dangers of the skull breaker challenge should not be taken lightly.
There should be awareness about its risks," said Andrew Mathew Mannil, 19, a student of the American University of Sharjah.
Aaron Augustine, another 19-year old student, said "it was shocking that the dangerous stunt has gone viral on social media".
"We teens need to understand that fun should not come at the risk of injury. I will seriously discourage anyone from trying this out."
Annica Stuthi, an eighth grade student of GEMS Millennium Sharjah, said the challenge is scary and "certainly not funny".
Latest of several viral challenges
This is not the first time that a social media challenge has caused concerns. In October last year, a UAE-based mother reported a harrowing story of how her son came home with a bruised neck. He was participating in the so-called 'pass-out challenge', where youngsters strangle themselves or each other in different ways to see how long they can last.
In November, parents in the UAE had expressed concerns over a dangerous challenge that involved Netizens sealing their bodies - even their heads sometimes - in large trash bags and sucking the air out with a vacuum cleaner.
Another challenge involved youngsters eating laundry detergent and daring others to do the same.