School pupils in France told to stop rubbing chillies in each other’s eyes

Police in France have taken the step of asking parents to tell their children about the dangers of a new hazardous game being played by young people that involves spicy chilli peppers.

School pupils in France told to stop rubbing chillies in each other's eyes
Photo: AFP

Gendarmes in Pas-de-Calais, northern France have decided to warn parents in a bid to stamp out the latest social media “challenge” that teenagers have taken to playing.

The Gendarmes say the “chilli pepper game” is steadily growing in popularity on social media sites like Facebook and in school playgrounds.

Essentially it involves pupils sneaking the most spicy chilli peppers into school, crushing them in their hands and then rubbing them into the mouths or eyes of unsuspecting victims.

Although some are choosing to prove themselves by rubbing them into their own skin, which can provoke burns.

A post on the Gendarmes Facebook page reads: “Since prevention remains the most effective method of curbing this phenomenon, it is necessary to speak openly with our young people about the danger of this kind of practice. BE CAREFUL!”

Although police in Pas-de-Calais have not has any serious incidents reported to them, one school in the Aube department did have to warn parents after three pupils were “lightly burned” after playing the game.

It's not the first time parents in France have had to be warned over the dangers of social media challenges.

In 2015 Panicked parents in France set out warnings over social media sites after it emerged that teenagers had come up with a new Facebook challenge that dared them to disappear without a trace for up to three days without contacting their family.

In 2014 French people flocked to challenge one another via Facebook to throw themselves into rivers or the sea or face the “fine” of buying a meal for the nominator. The craze resulted in tragedy when a teenager drowned after tying his bicycle to his leg before riding into a river.

The extremely popular social media game “Neknomination” preceded it, which involved people posting videos of themselves downing alcohol and then nominating others to do the same.
France later cracked down on the game, with a set of health reforms given the green light by the National Asssembly this month seeing anyone who incites others to “drink until drunk” risking six months in prison as well as a fine into the thousands.
A special page exists on France's Ministry of Education website that advises parents on how to spot signs that their child might have been involved in some kind of social media challenge.


France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.