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Girl, 12, doused with boiling water at sleepover in New York

New York: A 12-year-old girl has been arrested and charged with assault after a bizarre attack at a sleepover party in New York that left an 11-year-old girl with second-degree burns to her face and upper body.

The victim, Jamoneisha Merritt, was sleeping on a living room couch, the police said, when the 12-year-old poured a cup of boiling water over her face and shoulders. Friends inside the apartment then poured cold water on the scalded girl to try to alleviate the pain, according to the police.

Police officers responding to a 911 call at 4:40am on Monday arrived at the apartment in the Bronx, a borough of New York, to find Jamoneisha, who lives in a neighbouring building, conscious, with burns on her face, neck, chest and back.

She was taken to Harlem Hospital, where she remained in serious but stable condition, her mother, Ebony Merritt, said.

Standing outside of the hospital after visiting her daughter, Merritt was shaken by what had happened, and deeply angry.

"I just want justice for my daughter," she said. "I want all that was involved to be brought to justice."

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In postings online, Merritt said she thought her daughter was a victim of a social media stunt called the Hot Water Challenge.

It is an apparent knockoff of the Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral video phenomenon that led thousands of people, including many celebrities, to record themselves having ice water dumped on their heads as part of an effort to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Merritt said her daughter and the other girl were friends who lived across the street from each other the past six years.

She said she and the other girl's mother frequently watched each other's children, alternating sleepovers on the weekends. Merritt said she had also taken the other girl on numerous trips out of town.

Jamoneisha went for a sleepover on Sunday night. About 5:30am, the suspect's mother, accompanied by the police, knocked on Merritt's door in tears, Merritt said.

"She came in there and said, 'Your daughter is burned up,'" Merritt said as she held back tears outside the hospital.

"I'm very confused," she added. "That was a sick and vicious act."

Three days after the attack, Jamoneisha, still in the hospital, was progressing better than Merritt had expected.

"She's in good spirits," Merritt said. "She saw her face. She's OK with it. She's still traumatised, but she's doing better than I thought she would do."

Shernett Panton, the mother of the girl arrested, whose name was not released by the police because she was charged as a minor, described the scalding as a prank between friends gone wrong.

In an interview with The Daily News, Panton said her daughter was also taken to a hospital, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Centre, where she remained on suicide watch after trying to stab herself. Officials at Bronx-Lebanon confirmed that the child had not been released.

"What she did was really wrong, but it's too much right now," Panton told The Daily News. "My daughter is 12. Everybody makes mistakes."

Pictures released by Jamoneisha's family show her face covered with burns, pink and inflamed.

In pictures posted on Facebook from before the attack, Jamoneisha is petite and dressed in colourful clothes, with a round face. Friends and family members posted well wishes and prayers for her on the social media site.

On Facebook on Monday, Merritt posted a warning to other parents about the Hot Water Challenge.

A YouTube search turned up thousands of videos of people trying to withstand extremely hot water, either pouring it over themselves or dipping in a hand or foot.

In North Carolina last year, a 10-year-old boy suffered severe burns to his body as a result of trying the challenge with his brother, their stepfather said in a news report.

The New York Times