[Update below] The 11-year-old Bronx girl who was severely burned after a classmate threw boiling water on her during a slumber party on Sunday was reportedly warned that she would be targeted if she fell asleep.
Jamoneish Merritt, who suffered second-degree burns in the attack, had been arguing with a friend during the slumber party, according to her cousin Yolanda Richardson. "Her and her friend got into an argument and she told her if she goes to sleep they were going to do something to her," the victim's cousin told NBC New York on Wednesday.
After Merritt fell asleep, the 12-year-old friend allegedly filled a cup with boiling water and poured it on her face and back. "She said she was screaming that it was burning," the cousin added.
Merritt was rushed to Harlem Hospital, where she remains in serious but stable condition. The burns on her face, neck, shoulders and chest are so severe, NY1 reports, that doctors are preventing her from looking at them.
Despite this, family members say the 11-year-old girl is still in good spirits. "She seemed to still have the same energy like nothing ain't changed her," Merritt's cousin Starshanae Nixon told the station. "She's still smiling, joking. laughing. Yeah, she's doing good though."
Merritt's mother has placed blame for the incident on a supposed trend known as the "Hot Water Challenge"—a social media stunt in which teenagers and pre-teens pour boiling water on unsuspecting victims, then upload the footage to social media. In other variations of the stunt, young people have reportedly shared videos on YouTube of drinking boiling water through a straw. Earlier this month, an 8-year-old Florida girl died of complications related to drinking hot water on a dare.
Another offshoot is the "fire challenge," in which teens and pre-teens apparently douse themselves in rubbing alcohol and light themselves on fire. Last year, a 12-year-old boy in the Rockaways suffered third-degree burns covering more than 40 percent of his body after reportedly attempting the challenge. That "fire challenge" has been around since at least 2014, when 16-year-old Fernando Valencia spoke publicly about his attempt to KABC News:
"I can't really say nothing else besides it was a dumb idea."
UPDATE: The Daily News reports that the 12-year-old girl who allegedly poured boiling water on Merritt tried to kill herself after the incident. "My daughter tried to stab herself with a knife,” the attacker's mother, Shernett Panton, said on Thursday. “It was a prank—not a good prank. But after she saw what she did to [Jamoneisha] was really wrong, she tried to kill herself.” The news also reports that Ebony Merritt, Jamoneisha's mother, confronted Panton outside her apartment Thursday. “I’m going to burn your f-cking house down! You let this happen to my daughter,” she reportedly yelled.