Boards take different approaches to ‘Momo’
The four local school boards are divided on how to handle the online “Momo Challenge” hoax allegedly targeting children around the world.
The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) posted the following on its Facebook page last Thursday (February 28) afternoon:
“We want our UCDSB families to know that we are aware of reports regarding the ‘ Momo Challenge.’ We understand that the ‘Momo Challenge’ centres on claims that a mysterious character is using social media networks to encourage children to do dangerous and self-harming acts,” the post reads.
“This recent viral challenge is already being dispelled as a hoax by reliable news sources and social media platforms. However, this presents a timely opportunity to re-visit Internet safety with your child or teen.”
And while the UCDSB concurs that ‘Momo’ is apparently not a legitimate threat, it provides links on its Facebook page to a trio of online Internet safety resources: the Canada Safety Council, Public Safety Canada, and Kids Help Phone.
Meanwhile, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO), in its own Facebook message posted last Thursday evening, took a different tack.
“The CDSBEO is working with the OPP to inform and educate parents about a very disturbing viral Internet challenge known as the ‘MOMO Challenge,’” it reads.
“This challenge has been circulating on the Internet and encourages children to engage in dangerous and potentially harmful behaviour, to themselves or others. Students may become very distressed or frightened by encountering this challenge online or hearing discussion of it from their peers.”
Beneath the post, parents and caregivers “are encouraged” to visit a National Online Safety webpage entitled ‘ MOMO Challenge Guide for Parents.’
Both the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario (CEPEO) and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l'Est ontarien (CSDCEO) had yet to post anything regarding the “Momo Challenge”on their respective Facebook pages as of press time.
The “Momo Challenge” – which originally surfaced late last summer – is an alleged form of cyberbullying which is said to be spread through messages sent to children over various social media services and in YouTube videos for popular kids programming such as Peppa Pig.
In these messages, children are purportedly threatened by “Momo” – an alien-like woman with bulging eyes, an eerie stretched smile, and straggly hair.
“Momo” reportedly forces children to undertake dangerous tasks – up to and including selfharm and suicide – by threatening them with violence, either against the child himself or herself, their family members, friends, or pets.
And while word of the “Momo Challenge,” courtesy of the power of the Internet, has spread worldwide, there have been no officially-confirmed deaths or injuries linked to the hoax thus far.
As for Momo herself, the image is actually of a piece of art, entitled Mother Bird, created by a Japanese special effects company for a horror art exhibit in Tokyo in 2016.
CHILLING: The “Momo Challenge” has freaked some people out.