Belfast Telegraph

Councillor contacts police over internet self-harm challenge

A new online challenge is encouraging children to self harm, Councillor Pankhurst said
A new online challenge is encouraging children to self harm, Councillor Pankhurst said

Belfast DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst has said that he has contacted the PSNI regarding an online self-harm challenge game.

The 'Momo challenge' has spread through the internet and encourages people to perform dangerous tasks and acts of self harm. It warns children to keep the challenge secret from adults.

It uses a picture of a disturbing looking Japanese sculpture. In 2018, the image was linked to unofficial modifications - or mods - that formed part of the popular game Minecraft. Microsoft said that it would take action against the mods in question.

A number of suicides of young people across Europe have been linked to the app.

A PSNI spokesperson said that while "no official reports" had been received relating to the challenge, that police were aware of it.

"We would encourage anyone with concerns to make direct reports to PSNI so we can gather information that will allow us to identify and address any potential risks," a PSNI spokesperson said.

Councillor Pankhurst said that he had been made aware the challenge was "doing the rounds" in Northern Ireland.

"I have been made aware that there is some sort of sickening challenge doing the rounds on the internet," he said.

"Apparently, it encourages self-harm. I will not get into the details of it as it is absolutely grotesque."

He encouraged parents to talk to their children about the challenge.

Dale Pankhurst
Dale Pankhurst

"I will be making the PSNI aware to have it shut down in Northern Ireland and further afield. In the mean time if your children use the internet, check their search history and warn them of the dangers of this," Councillor Pankhurst said.

"Some sick, sad, deluded people about who deserve nothing but jail time."

The NSPCC has said that parents must make children aware of the risks online.

"The constantly evolving digital world means a steady influx of new apps and games and can be hard for parents to keep track of," a spokesperson said.

“That’s why it’s important for parents to talk regularly with children about these apps and games and the potential risks they can be exposed to.

“The NSPCC publishes advice and guidance for parents on discussing online safety with their children, as well as Net Aware – the UK’s only parental guide to social media and gaming apps."

If adults are concerned or have any questions on how to approach the subject with their children you can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit the NSPCC website.

Children who are feeling worried about their activity on apps or online games can contact Childline 24 hours a day, online and over the phone, on 0800 11 11 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk.

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