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A Mother Is Warning Parents About The "Hot Water Challenge" After Her Daughter Was Severely Burned

The girl has been released from the hospital two weeks after suffering burns on her face, back, and shoulders when she was doused with boiling water at a sleepover.

Last updated on August 20, 2017, at 6:07 p.m. ET

Posted on August 10, 2017, at 1:52 p.m. ET

An 11-year-old girl in New York has been released from the hospital two weeks after she was badly burned by boiling water that was poured on her while she was sleeping at a friend's house.

Via Facebook

Her mother and other relatives said online that the attack on Jamoneisha Merritt was inspired by videos depicting the "hot water challenge."

Anthony Colon / Via Facebook: anthony.colon.775

Jamoneisha Merritt is pictured on the right.

A 12-year-old girl has been arrested and charged with felony assault for the attack, New York police told BuzzFeed News. The investigation into the incident remains ongoing, but there is "no indication that it was a hot water challenge," they added.

The incident was likely a prank gone wrong. Earlier in the day, Jamoneisha had played a prank on the 12-year-old by throwing room-temperature water on her, and so she decided to get back at her by throwing the hot water.

Pictures shared by Jamoneisha's family show how badly she was burned.

NBC New York / Via

Jamoneisha's mother told NY1 that her daughter was not shown her injuries at first because they were so severe.

NBC New York / Via

After the attack, Jamoneisha's mother, Ebony Merritt, wrote on Facebook that her daughter was in the intensive care unit, and asked people to keep her "in your prayers."

Ebony Merritt / Via Facebook: ebony.merritt.1

Later that day, Ebony wrote again on Facebook, saying that parents need to be responsible for their kids and make sure they don't do "these stupid ass challenges they see on Fb!!"

Ebony Merritt / Via Facebook: ebony.merritt.1

The incident took place during a sleepover at a friend's apartment in the Bronx, located across the street from her own home.

Jamoneisha's cousin, Yolanda Richardson, told NBC New York that the friends got in a fight and had threatened the 11-year-old before she went to sleep that they would "do something to her."

Jamoneisha's mother told NY1 that she was told that the alleged attacker didn't like her daughter. "I was told that they didn't like her. And they just been bullying her," Ebony Merritt said. "They've been on Snapchat. It's been going on several times. The girl admitted it. 'I don't like her. I wanted to do it.'"

NY1 / Via

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Ebony Merritt for additional information.

On Friday, after Jamoneisha was released from the hospital, her mother told the New York Daily News that she wanted justice for her daughter. Even though the 12-year-old girl had been charged and will be tried in Family Court, she said other girls and the mother were involved and should be "arrested," too.

"I want justice for my daughter," Ebony Merritt said to the New York Post. "Even afterward, they put it on social media."

She also said to the NY Daily News that the other mom waited an-hour-and-a-half before she told her what happened to her daughter.

On Saturday, the victim's cousin, Tiona Richardson, posted a picture of the two of them at the pool. "She doing absolutely fabulous now," Richardson told BuzzFeed News about Jamoneisha. "She had a great recovery although she still healing but everything coming alone just fine."

Tiona Richardson / Via

There are thousands of results on YouTube for "hot water challenge," with the most popular video, "Hand In Boiling Water Challenge! HOOOT!" at nearly 3 million views. It starts by saying "Don't do this! I'm just doing it because I'm just generally curious ... if this is going to work or not." The video says it's a test to see whether your body can adjust to the temperature as it heats up — which, obviously, it cannot — and eventually the person has to pull his hand out.

View this video on YouTube

"Oh my god, don't do this at home," the host says after he pulls out his hand. "It's not even boiling yet ... but it hurt so bad. I'm stupid, I know."

Some videos online also show people dousing boiling water on others.

Last month, an 8-year-old girl in Florida, Ki'ari Pope, died after drinking boiling water through a straw. She was dared to drink the boiling water in March by her 8-year-old cousin after the two of them watched a YouTube video, according to a fundraising page set up by her mother, Marquisia Bonner.


Ki'ari's throat was badly burned after the dare, and she had to undergo surgery to receive a tracheotomy. Her mother's boyfriend said the girl told him she was having trouble breathing shortly before she died. The medical examiner's office is still determining the exact cause of her death.

The Florida Department of Children and Families also said it is investigating, and that they had past reports involving allegations of domestic violence between Ki'ari's mother and her "respective paramour."

"They dared her and she said, 'OK, I’m going to show y’all I’m not scared, I’m going to do this,'" Diane Johnson, Ki’ari’s aunt, told CBS 12.

Johnson also called on parents to talk to their kids about online challenges.

"Tell your kids about these challenges, these challenges are horrific," Johnson said. "Don’t just give them your phone and let them go by. Watch what they are doing.”

Last year, a 10-year-old boy in North Carolina was hospitalized for weeks and had to undergo several surgeries after he attempted the hot water challenge with his step brother, his mother told WBTV. Wesley Smith suffered second- and third-degree burns, she said, adding that the boys were unsupervised when the incident happened.


BuzzFeed News has reached out to local officials for additional information and any updates in this case.

Wesley's mother and stepfather warned other parents about the hot water challenge, saying "Watch what your kids are doing on the internet."

WBTV / Via

Jamoneisha's mother set up a GoFundMe to help cover her medical expenses.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.