DOE addresses ‘Momo Challenge’

HILO — Concern about a recent internet challenge targeting children and teens has the state Department of Education reaching out to families.

“The Momo Challenge” is played online via a social medial platform, where contact is initiated by searching for a phone number online and sending a message, a Feb. 27 letter from the DOE states. The player then enters into a conversation that involves directions to complete challenges that can include self-harm or even suicide.

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“There have been reports that bullies have been posing as Momo — a nightmarish character with bulging eyes and a chilling smile — on platforms to bully others into harming themselves or others,” the letter says.

DOE spokeswoman Lindsay Chambers said because of recent national media coverage, several schools expressed concern about the trend.

The department provided letters to the district’s 15 complex area superintendents to share with families at their discretion.

“According to experts, although the challenge appears to be more fear than fact, it’s important for parents to talk to their children about it,” the letter states. “Parents can ask their child whether they have seen anything online that has upset or worried them, and explain that there are often things that happen online that can be misleading or frightening and that some things are solely designed to get a lot of attention.”

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The DOE also recommends parents review the online safety and security features on their child’s devices.

According to Chambers, the DOE has not received reports from any schools about injuries resulting from the challenge.

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