Swindon schools warn parents over sinister ‘suicide’ game endangering children

By Claire Dukes - 27 February 2019

EducationPre-school & ChildcarePrimarySecondary
  • Image via BBC

    Image via BBC

A new online craze has been reigning terror over parents of young children after growing concerns of self-harm and even suicide.

The sinister ‘Momo Challenge’ has been popping up across online and messaging platforms, including Whatsapp and YouTube, targeting young children through cyberbullying. 

It is alleged that the chilling doll, Momo, contacts children through social messaging platforms and if they do not respond, or accept the request, then ‘bad things will happen to them’.

After a child engages with Momo they are then encouraged to harm themselves during a series of challenges, or dares. In some cases, the doll threatens to harm the child, or their family, if they do not provide sensitive information requested by the character. It is now being speculated that the Momo Challenges are being used by hackers to obtain sensitive information from children. 

However, the more sinister aspect at the forefront of these challenges is that Momo encourages children to self-harm, and in some cases, commit suicide. Schools across Swindon are now raising their concerns and contacting parents.

Liden Primary and Nursery School have today issued a letter to parents urging them to monitor their children’s online social activity where they could come into contact with the “ghoulish” character.

In a letter to parents the school’s Online Safety Lead, Sam Austin, said: “The latest online craze brought to my attention today is the ‘Momo challenge’ which you may have heard of.

“The ‘Momo Challenge’ encourages children to commit dangerous and potentially violent acts through social media and video games, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Minecraft.  

“Momo is a ghoulish-looking avatar that has threatened and cyberbullied children across the world - recently in America.  

“The challenge has been linked to suicides in other countries.  If children refuse to do the ‘challenge’, Momo threatens to leak personal information, leaves disturbing messages, and sends violent images. These threats are not true, but it might be hard for a young mind to realise this.

“Parents are being encouraged to closely monitor your child’s online activity, including watching videos on YouTube and playing games.

“If you hear pupils talking about the Momo Challenge, please feel free to come to the office and ask to speak with me.

“I would also ask parents to be vigilant, as often, you are our eyes and ears for these ‘crazes’ which could endanger our children.”

Schools including St John’s in Marlborough have also contacted parents to issue warnings.

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