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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ryan Merrifield

Archie Batersbee's mum calls for law change to stop dangerous online 'challenge' videos

The heartbroken mum of Archie Battersbee has called for law changes to tackle anyone sharing or uploading dangerous viral 'challenge' videos on social media.

Hollie Dance described how she had to watch her 12-year-old son "suffocating" for 15 minutes as his life support was switched off.

Archie died on August 6 after his parents lost their legal battle to have him moved to a hospice.

He suffered catastrophic brain injuries in April before slipping into a coma and never regaining consciousness.

Hollie, 46, from Southend, Essex, said children from a very young age are being 'groomed' online by those starting and fuelling such challenges.

She told LBC today schoolchildren are extremely "vulnerable", adding "more needs to be done" by the social media platforms in what is considered appropriate.

"Prosecution wise, I think maybe the adults that are uploading the videos for the kids to copy, I think they need to be targeted a bit more," she said.

Archie Battersbee with his mum Hollie Dance (PA)

"One of the videos I watched was an adult, in his 30s, tying a rope round his neck and pulling it tight.

"Kids are watching that. I don’t know what these adults are thinking at the time."

Hollie has written to the Health Secretary Steve Barclay and called for a public inquiry.

The Hight Court ruled in July doctors could lawfully stop Archie's life support.

Archie took part in an online challenge in April (PA)
Archie on life support in hospital (PA)

Hollie and Archie's dad Paul Battersbee failed in a series of bids to have the decision overturned.

The Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the two parents, released Hollie's letter to Mr Barclay on Friday.

In it she asked for a meeting to discuss working together to ensure "no other family has to go through this".

She added that while Archie's case has had a lot of publicity, many similar cases in the High Court's Family division don't due to reporting restrictions and kept away from public scrutiny.

"There should be a comprehensive public inquiry into the operation of this system; and then a change of the law to protect the grieving families from cruelty," she said.

Hollie attends a vigil at Priory Park in Southend-on-Sea (PA)

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, thought that he was brain-stem dead.

They said continued life-support treatment was not in his best interests.

Hollie told the Mirror last week: “The morning Archie died, I told him how much I loved him.

“At midday they took his pipe out. It took 15 minutes for his heart to stop. There was nothing ‘dignified’ about his death.

"It was heartbreaking, watching your child suffocate. That image will never, ever leave me.”

Hollie with friend Ella Carter outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel after Archie's death (PA)

She believes there have been at least 82 deaths linked to the “blackout challenge”, in which people choke themselves until they pass out, with many more left brain damaged since it first began 14 years ago.

Several reports of lethal or dangerous online challenges have emerged since Archie’s case.

Tori Barber told how her 10-year-old daughter was left with burns after spraying an aerosol deodorant with the nozzle right up against her skin to create a freezing sensation.

Jane Platt’s daughter Sarah, 15, was rushed to hospital in February 2020 after doing the “skullbreaker challenge”, which involves two people kicking the legs from under a third, making them fall over.

In the US, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against TikTok last month blaming it for the deaths of two girls, aged eight and nine, who took part in the blackout challenge.

Lib Dem digital spokesman Jamie Stone criticised delays to the Online Safety Bill in the UK.

Mr Stone said: “It’s more than four years since Conservative ministers promised new laws to tackle online harms, but we’re still waiting. We need clear, tough laws.”

But a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman said: “The Online Safety BIll will force tech firms to protect children from dangerous viral stunts. Failing firms will face huge fines or have their sites blocked.”

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