Jamoneisha Merritt, 11, went to sleep Sunday night, near another young girl she believed to be her friend. Now Jamoneisha doesn’t know what her own reflection looks like anymore.
Her shoulders and neck are scarred and bulbous. In one photo from a hospital bed, Jamoneisha’s eyes are shut, her face pink from a layer of skin vaporized by scalding water.
She’s still beautiful to her mother.
Jamoneisha was allegedly attacked by another girl at the sleepover in the Bronx with a cup of boiling water, her mother Ebony Merritt said to local media stations.
Merritt told NY1 that her daughter, whom she affectionately calls “Monie,” was wounded not just physically but emotionally after the 12-year-old poured the water over Jamoneisha as she slept. Now she is recovering in serious but stable condition, according to police.
Merritt told local media Jamoneisha is not ready to see the full extent of her potentially lifelong injuries, so she has limited her daughter’s ability to look at herself.
A New York Police Department statement released to The Washington Post said the 12-year-old girl was arrested Monday night and charged with second-degree assault.
“She don’t understand why they did that to her. She thought they was her friends,” Merritt told the station. “I was told that they didn’t like her. And they just been bullying her.” Merritt also took to Facebook to tell other parents to discourage children about following social media challenges.
It was not immediately clear if the alleged attacker told police she was inspired by Internet videos.
Yolanda Richardson told the local NBC affiliate that her cousin Jamoneisha and the other girl argued the night before the attack.
“[The other girl] told her if she goes to sleep they were going to do something to her,” Yolanda said.
Merritt believes her daughter is the victim of a social media-fueled prank called the hot water challenge, a potentially dangerous dare in which teenagers and kids boil water and throw it on an unsuspecting victim.
Ki’ari Pope, an 8-year old girl from Florida, died in late July, months after she drank boiling water from a straw after she and a cousin watched a video of a similar act on YouTube, the Associated Press reported. Her mother, Marquisia Bonner, said Ki’ari had problems breathing after a tracheotomy removed scar tissue from her windpipe.
The pair of incidents are wrinkles of an old digital phenomenon — kids egged on by social media missions created on the dark corners of the Web, provoking them to do something incredibly dangerous to themselves or others.
Suicides, assaults and accidents have been traced back to Internet fads like the blue whale challenge, which purportedly asks participants to complete a list of mundane and dangerous activities ranging from watching a horror film to self-mutilating.
One Texas teenager allegedly killed himself last month as part of the challenge, his parents say.
Other apparent criminal acts do not have a clear connection between online challenges and real world violence. The so-called knockout game, which called for kids to attack unsuspecting people from behind in an effort to knock them unconscious, sent parents, teachers and cable news into a frenzy.
It was also found to mostly be a hoax, a scary sounding and Facebook-ready phenomenon grafted onto random assaults, a report found.
But Jamoneisha’s life-altering burns are very real. And her mother has reason to believe digital taunting transformed into real violence, she told NY1.
“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,’” she said.
Jamoneisha’s family, who could not be reached by The Post, has been at her bedside through the recovery process, in an update with NY1.
“She seemed to still have the same energy like nothing ain’t change her. She’s still smiling, joking, laughing. Yeah, she’s doing good though,” Starshanae Nixon, Jamoneisha’s cousin, told the network.