Belfast Telegraph

Momo challenge hoax: PSNI 'committed to keeping people safe online and in real world'

Police have warned parents of the dangers of the Momo Challenge.
Police have warned parents of the dangers of the Momo Challenge.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Northern Ireland police have said they are committed to protecting people both in the real and digital worlds, after claims of a "suicide game targeting Northern Ireland kids" online were said to be either false of "grossly exaggerated".

Concern over the 'Momo' challenge rose over the past week with the PSNI and numerous other law enforcement agencies making public alerts over its dangers to young children.

Police said a creepy-looking character would appear encouraging children to take part in challenges, ultimately leading them to kill themselves. It apparently threatened to put a curse on families if children told their parents about it.

Schools and youth groups have sent warning letters out to parents after the reports. Parents reported seeing the character appear during their children's videos.

It was also reported to be linked to a number of cases of suicides around the world.

Northern Ireland police always said they had no report of incidents but on Sunday warned of a "suicide game targeting our kids" to their more than one million social media followers.

Thousands reacted to the post and to news stories based on the warning. On Friday the posts remained on its social media accounts.

However, in the past week charities - including the NSPCC and the Samaritans - said the reports were "fake". YouTube said claims Momo appeared on its platform were false, saying content of that nature would be removed.

Northern Ireland online child protection expert Jim Gamble - a former police officer - said he believed reports of the game and it being linked to causing harm and death were "grossly exaggerated" rather than fake.

Police Detective Sergeant Elaine McCormill said: “Our role as the Police Service of Northern Ireland is to keep people safe and this includes keeping people safe online.

“Public Protection Branch work closely with our partners to educate the public about online risks and provide consistent information and advice to keep our young people safe online.

“We cannot stress strongly enough how important it is for parents to speak to their children and young people about being safe online. Make them aware of online dangers and make sure they know that they can speak to someone if anything or anyone online causes them concern.

"Parents and guardians should also supervise the games that children and young people are playing and the videos they watch online.

"You can find out more information about staying safe online by downloading the Safeguarding Board NI app."

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