SINGAPORE: Harmless pranks. We’ve all done them before as children and teenagers. They often involve a surprise or a joke that is meant to be funny, and is done with the intention of making people laugh.
Even as adults, many take delight in watching videos of people being pranked. A simple search for #pranks yields nearly 70 billion views on TikTok and more than a million posts on Instagram.
People may enjoy playing pranks for various reasons. For some, it may be a way to relieve boredom. For others, it may be a way to seek attention or gain social approval.
However, when does pranking become bullying? And who should take responsibility when an innocent prank crosses the line and results in serious consequences? How can pranksters make sure their actions do not humiliate or cause harm to others?
In February, a Malaysian child actress was seriously injured in an alleged chair-pulling prank. The girl fell and fractured her hip bone after the chair she was about to sit on was pulled back by another child. In the days that followed, the girl had to wear diapers and was confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk or sit.
Parents were up in arms when the story broke. Angry commenters called the prankster a bully, and many called for the prankster’s family to be punished.
In another incident earlier this month, Thor actor Chris Hemsworth and his wife were called out after one of their twin boys had his head pushed face-first into chocolate cake during their 9th birthday party.
“Only one way to eat cake in this house and that’s to have mum slam your head into it face first!!,” Hemsworth wrote on Twitter.
Some people said the prank was violent, others said it was a bit of harmless fun.