Dangerous schoolyard game prompts renewed warnings

IN THE FIGHT OF HIS LIFE: Caloundra’s Sue Merrotsy with her 15-year-old son, Jose Morales, at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane back in 2006.
IN THE FIGHT OF HIS LIFE: Caloundra’s Sue Merrotsy with her 15-year-old son, Jose Morales, at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane back in 2006. Brett Wortman

A "TAP OUT" game which is believed to have left a Gold Coast high school student in a critical condition with a fractured skull has previously left one Sunshine Coast student unconscious and another with permanent brain damage.

It has been reported that Currumbin High student Jamie Cox, 15, lost consciousness and hit his head on the ground on Wednesday after being put in a headlock by another student.

The game, inspired by professional wrestlers, requires the person being held in the chokehold to "tap" person holding them in a signal to stop.

In 2005, Jose Morales stopped breathing after what experts initially believed was a heart attack while he and friend were "mucking around" but his mother, Sue Merrotsy, later learned that he had been placed in a chokehold by a friend during a game.

The friend continued to hold him after he went limp because he thought Jose was "foxing" to be released, but the teenager had lost consciousness and stopped breathing.

Although revived, the lack of oxygen to Jose's brain caused permanent damage and he requires around-the-clock care.

In 2010, a Coolum teenager lost consciousness in a similar game but survived.

Ms Merrotsy, of Buddina, said what seemed like a harmless game had affected not only Jose and her family but also the boy who had held Jose and his family for the rest of their lives.

"People should be more careful," she said.

But a member of the teaching staff at a large Sunshine Coast high school was unaware of the game being played in this region.

"It's not something we see up here," she told the Daily.

A Department of Education and Training spokesman said it did not keep statistics "specifically relating to the activity which resulted in a student's injury at a Gold Coast school".

The spokesman said there was a range of policies and guidelines to help schools meet health and safety obligations and it was up to each school to develop a responsible behaviour plan and consequences for inappropriate behaviour.

Topics:  department of education and training editors picks education education queensland school

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