Kids scared by 'Momo' hoax
Parents are being urged to remain calm following reports of an internet ‘phenomenon’ targeting children.
Reports in the national press and on social media, regarding the so-called ‘Momo challenge’ have been ‘blown out of proportion’ say Lincolnshire Police.
Stories have emerged about social media and YouTube clips of children’s popular TV shows being altered to potentially cause distressing behaviour to the viewer.
However, Lincolnshire Police say that the phenomenon is now emerging to be a hoax and that there are no known cases in which children have come to harm.
But parents contacted us, following a talk in one school last Tuesday by a PCSO from the force, upset that their children had been told about the ‘Momo Challenge.’
Mum Pamela Keatley, whose 10-year-old son goes to Westmere Community Primary School, said: “I am angry that the school did not warn parents in advance about the talk. My son is XBox obsessed and is now too scared to go on it. All he said was he was told about it and that it is false.’
“He said: ‘I am scared that Momo will be on there.
“He has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) as well and I said why not listen to some music instead on it and he said ‘I am scared Momo will come up on it.’
“He is not on Facebook and he knows about ‘stranger danger’ and his internet use is monitored at home. He knows about safety.”
Another mum, Zoe Heasman, who has two daughters aged seven and ten, also at the school, said: “They don’t really use internet devices and are now really nervous. They said to me the other day ‘don’t go on WhatsApp.’
“I am unhappy about the way it was dealt with. I picked them up from their childminder after work to be told they were scared and nervous after being told about this challenge by the PCSO. They had not heard anything about it before the talk and I feel it should be my decision to tell my children about something like this. The children are now scared to put the TV on.”
Executive head teacher for the The Griffin Foundation, of which Westmere Community Primary belongs, Karyn Wiles, issued the following statement:
"We take our commitment to safeguarding and keeping our children safe as a key priority. “We've been approached recently by parents and children, concerned about children being exposed to unpleasant images on YouTube at home.
“A PCSO spoke to our Key Stage 2 children about general online safety this week and when the topic of current concerns came up, he very briefly and sensibly reassured children that this was fake and that image could not hurt them. No images were shown and he explained that children should tell their parents if they see anything online that upsets them."
"We will always do whatever we can to protect our children and give them the skills and knowledge they need to keep safe online. We have also provided advice to our parents on online safety as good practice."
A spokesperson for Lincolnshire Police added: “It is vital that children are educated in online safety but also that it is done in such a way that dangers are understood without the children becoming unduly afraid.
“This is why online safety should be talked about in the classroom and in the home and not left for the playground. When children talk amongst themselves there can be a total lack of the balance and reassurance that a parent, teacher or police officer can give. We work with schools to deliver online safety advice that is relevant and appropriate.”
And speaking about ‘Momo’ the spokesperson added: “This particular phenomenon has caused great concern and is a valuable lesson about how something can be blown out of proportion by social media coverage.”
- If you have any concerns over issues raised in this article you can contact The Samaritans for confidential support on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Childline can be contacted via its website at www.childline.org.uk or call 0800 1111.