‘Momo’: what is it and should we be worried?

The latest internet trend, reportedly linked to child suicides and self-harm, has been debunked as a hoax, but pupils and parents are still concerned. Find out where it came from and what you should do next.

What’s Momo?

‘Momo’ is an image of a scary, doll-like puppet. It’s been reported that:

Anonymous individuals are adding children and young people on Facebook and WhatsApp (an instant messaging service), using the image of Momo as an avatar

The user then encourages young people to do ‘challenges’, some of which can be dangerous or frightening, and tells them not to tell other members of their family what’s happening

The image has apparently also been spliced into YouTube videos, such as those about Peppa Pig or Mickey Mouse

It’s a hoax

At the moment there’s only anecdotal evidence, and no reports from official sources that the ‘Momo challenge’ has led to children harming themselves.

Police haven’t reported any instances of children harming themselves due to the ‘Momo challenge’

Samaritans said it was ‘not aware of any verified evidence in this country or beyond’ that it’s linked to self-harm

A YouTube spokesperson also told the Guardian that it ‘had not received any evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube’

The ensuing media coverage may, however, be harmful and frightening to young people.

Where did it come from?

The image itself is a sculpture that originally featured in a Japanese gallery, and has nothing to do with the current ‘Momo challenge’.

The ‘Momo challenge’ originally gained attention in July last year, and resurfaced this month when a Facebook post from a concerned parent went viral (it was shared thousands of times). It’s since been covered by several news outlets.

What we are doing as a school

The ‘Momo challenge’ itself is unlikely to pose an immediate risk to pupils’ health, but…

Our Designated safeguarding leads (DSLs) are monitoring the behaviour of pupils who they feel may be particularly affected by suggestions of self-harm or suicide

We will only notify parents or share information about Momo with pupils as and when needed. Being careful not to scaremonger or peak interest in the issue further by proactively sharing the image or story with pupils or parents

We are aware that the image, and surrounding media coverage, might still be frightening to children. We will Report directly to the social media platform itself if we see anything to do with Momo, and don’t forward it on anywhere.

As a school we do not allow learners access unsupervised access to social media or Youtube

Sources

The principal and leadership team, well supported by the Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust, have provided strong leadership, which has had a positive impact on the school’s effectiveness. As a result, there have been improvements in all areas, most noticeably in pupils’ behaviour and attitudes, the curriculum and in the wider opportunities for pupils.

Ofsted, February 2019

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