Dear Gardner-Dickinson School families,
We want to inform you of an internet hoax called “The Momo Challenge” that while not real, can still be distressing to students.
The so-called Momo Challenge started as news reports of a new internet challenge that caused students to self-harm or commit suicide. There is little to no evidence that actually occurred.
However, while fact-checking organizations have largely debunked the Momo Challenge, a disturbing image associated with the hoax has spread on social media. (The image is actually an unrelated sculpture of a grinning figure with dark hair and bulging eyes created by a Japanese special effects company.)
We have alerted our faculty and staff about this and we are taking proactive steps to deter students from seeing the image or sharing false information about the hoax. We do not believe students are intentionally trying to frighten classmates; it is more a curiosity.
However, given the nature of the internet, it is difficult if not impossible to completely shield students from this unfortunate hoax. We recommend you talk to your child to reassure them in case they have heard about it or are concerned. Here are some talking points.
- If they have seen the image, tell them it is not real and cannot harm them.
- If they have heard about the Momo Challenge, tell them it is a story someone made up.
- Reassure them they are safe.
- Remind them that not everything they read online is true.
Please also feel free to contact me if you have further concerns.
Dr. Thomas Reardon
Superintendent of Schools