Viral “#MomoChallenge” concerns parents and teachers about mental health

An alleged alarming social media challenge has once again gained international attention, putting parents on edge.

The “#MomoChallenge” is described to be a suicide game—with the disturbing image of a woman, based from a Japanese sculpture— who allegedly pops up on seemingly innocent WhatsApp chats, Facebook posts and YouTube videos— encouraging children to participate in dangerous activities—including self-harm.

Over the past few days, many reports are saying that latest viral concern has almost no evidence to prove that it is real, and to put an exclamation mark on the issue, YouTube formally released a statement via Twitter, denouncing the existence of the challenge:

“We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge: we’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the momo challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.”

But real or not, it quickly made the rounds in schools all over.

16-year-old Ysabella Alegre says at her high school, even the teachers are addressing the Momo Challenge.

Even if the Momo challenge may not be real——the fears and concerns of parents are.

The Momo Challenge is one of the several internet lores which is said to have started in Europe— where schools began issuing stern warnings to parents about the image. Police said some videos allegedly encouraged young children to “take a knife to their own throat.”

Psychology experts say there may be deeper issues that need to be addressed in order to help prevent children from participating in such dangerous behaviors.

“I’m more concerned about children who are more isolated, less of a support system. So at school do they feel lonely, are they less likely to have friendships, are they finding ways to seek relationships? Are they searching the web to find relationships that way.”

“I think the bigger issue is to have a conversation within the family — how are we as parents [are] interacting as a family to keep each other safe.”

Hoax or not, experts say the bigger conversation of mental illness is at the forefront of this issue. They encourage everyone to be aware of the people around them — especially children—if they need professional help.

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