"It''s a way to belong to somebody and check their territory," the New York Daily News quoted high school sophomore Pao Hernandez as telling CBS News. Hernandez said couples at her school exchange blood with each other to prove their passion, and friends also give each other bites to demonstrate just how close they are.
"This is kind of the modern day version of the hickey," said CBS Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton. But we have to remember, any time there's a break in the skin, especially when you're talking about the human mouth, it's loaded with bacteria...You can set up for potentially some serious skin infections," she said.
And the trend has left parents across the country panicked, and not just about the germs. "This really concerns me because it has to do with possession. We're talking about something that's about ownership, possessing your friends," wrote parenting blogger Vanessa Van Petten on her website.
Missy Wall, the Director of a Dallas outreach group for middle and high school students, says teenagers are using the bites as a new kind of status symbol. "It becomes a contest of who has the bite mark and then that means somebody cares about you or you're in a relationship or you've been chosen, which is very similar to the movies. Not only obviously are there physical consequences but psychosocial. This is a way of marking a person, and it is a form of emotional and physical abuse," said Ashton.