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Chronicle Live
Dan Warburton & Aaron Morris

Archie Battersbee's mam says online trend that put son in coma has killed 82 kids

The mother of the late Archie Battersbee has accused social media platforms of failing to tackle harmful and dangerous content such as the trending challenge which killed her son.

Hollie Dance, 46, believes that there have been 82 deaths linked to the 'blackout challenge' alone, in which people choke themselves until they pass out. Many other unfortunate participants have also been left brain damaged after the trend first came to light 14 years ago.

Archie, just 12-years-old, spent more than four months in a coma after he was found with a ligature around his neck - and tragically passed away on August 6 when hospital staff withdrew life support.

Read more: ‘Beautiful little boy’ Archie Battersbee dies in hospital, mother announces

Now, in her first exclusive newspaper interview since Archie died with The Mirror, Hollie, who fought through the court system to keep her son alive, said: "The social media companies don’t do enough to stop harmful content online. It’s out there and people are grooming our children to do these challenges, it’s disgusting.

"The people – they’re often adults, not children – who are demonstrating these challenges are sick.”

Archie Battersbee was left brain-steam dead after the 'blackout challenge' (PA)

Hollie came across online footage of a man in his 30s tying something around his neck and pulling it tight in what she believes to have been a demonstration video. She added: "This is a grown man demonstrating this ‘trick’ to children. Those people need to be held accountable. The police and the Government need to work together to stop this.”

Several reports of dangerous and even lethal online challenges have emerged since Archie's story came to light. Tori Barber spoke about ow her ten-year old-daughter had been left with severe burns after spraying an aerosol right against her skin to create a freeze-like sensation after witnessing videos online.

Jane Platt's daughter Sarah, 15, was also rushed to hospital in February 2020 - after she took part in a 'skullbreaker challenge'. The trend involves two people kicking the legs from under a third, making them fall to the ground.

In the United States of America, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against teenage favourite TikTok last month, blaming it for the deaths of two girls aged eight and nine. It is reported that both had taken part in the notorious blackout challenge.

Tonight, there were calls for the UK Government to intervene further to prevent more tragedies from occurring - with Lib Dem digital spokesman Jamie Stone criticising delays to the Online Safety Bill. He 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.”

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman, replied: “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.”

Hollie is determined that no-one should have to suffer like her son and their family did. She continued: "That’s the legacy I want for Archie. I want to protect kids and the loved ones left behind. It’s unbearable.” She found Archie unconscious at their home in Southend, Essex, on April 7, immediately giving him CPR before he was rushed to hospital.

Archie Battersbee with his mother Hollie Dance (PA)

He was subsequently transferred to the Royal London Hospital, where medics declared him 'brain-stem dead'. The Bart's Health NHS Trust went to court, with concerns that is was not in Archie's best interests to continue treatment - but his mother Hollie and father Paul disagreed, lodging appeal after appeal in a fightback.

In the end, their lengthy battle was unsuccessful, and Archie's life support was withdrawn on August 6. Hollie said: "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 heart-breaking, watching your child suffocate. That image will never, ever leave me.”

Archie's family will now campaign to change laws around life support, with Hollie writing to Health Secretary Steve Barclay, saying: "Depriving disabled children of their right to life because of their disability is unacceptable.” Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, who supported Hollie's case added: "We need a better system."

Despite the tragic outcome, Hollie does not regret fighting in the courts. She said: “I wouldn’t have changed a thing. That legal challenge bought us five extra months with my child

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