A warning has been issued to parents and both the police and the NSPCC have condemned a new Facebook ‘game’ where children go missing for 48-hours.
This viral ‘game’ sees children running away from home for 48 hours in a competition to see who can get the most attention.
Children as young as 14 are reported to be taking part in what is fast becoming known as the “48-hour challenge”.
Points are then awarded to the people who get the most mentions on Facebook as desperate parents use social media to alert others of their disappearance.
Nottinghamshire Police has now spoken out against the new craze.
Sergeant Ian Birkin, of Nottinghamshire Police’s Missing From Home team, said: “We have not had any reported instances of missing people taking part in this challenge and we would hope it remains that way.
“Reports of this nature would cause unnecessary worry for families as well as putting those taking part at risk of harm and could tie up police resources.”
A mum from Belfast has hit out at the ‘game’ this week after her child went missing for 55 hours and she was left terrified they were dead, would be raped, trafficked or killed.
Children’s charity NSPCC has also criticised this dangerous fad.
A NSPCC spokesman said: “Children can find it difficult to stand up to peer pressure but they must know it’s perfectly okay to refuse to take part in anything that make them feel unsafe or scared.
“Parents should talk with their children and emphasise that they can make their own choices and discuss ways of how to say no.
“Keeping young people safe online is a major child protection issue of our generation and it is also vitally important that parents discuss internet safety with their children using tips and resources available from the NSPCC and others.”
The charity has released some tips for parents on keeping their children safe online:
• Explore sites and apps together - talk about what might be okay for children of different ages.
• Ask about things they might see online which make them feel uncomfortable - be specific, link to the real world, show them how to report or block on the sites and apps they use
• Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them.