A FOUR-YEAR-OLD was found with pills in his hand and was told to “hit himself with a hammer” after being targeted by the sick character Momo as the number of disturbing reports continue to rise.
Mum Rachel Kirk said she was horrified as her little boy Brad revealed the bug-eyed avatar had told him to do “bad things” – waking up screaming “momo” in the middle of the night.
Speaking to the Sun Online, she said her son had been traumatised – believing he was exposed to the character after it was spliced into kid’s shows on YouTube.
Rachel, 25, said: “Brad told me she had been telling him to do bad things – find a hammer and hit himself with it, go in the bath when there were no adults there – just horrible, horrible things.
“He had started sneaking off to the bathroom and randomly putting the taps on, and we found him with a pill packet two weeks ago – this is him starting to do what they have been telling him to do.”
The mum, of Fife Scotland, is just one of dozens of concerned parents in the UK to speak out after their kids were left screaming in fear, too scared to go to the bathroom by themselves or go to sleep over the sick character.
CHANGE IN BEHAVIOUR
Momo, initially a Japanese sculpture, has been overtaken by sick Internet trolls using the image to terrify youngsters – issuing challenges on WhatsApp before reportedly popping up in YouTube videos and on Fortnite to issue challenges and threats.
The sick avatar has sparked warnings from schools and even police as reports of terrified children increase in the UK and world.
Disturbingly, many parents revealed they had no idea why their child’s behaviour had changed – with it only when they asked their son or daughter if they knew who Momo was that they were met with disturbing reactions.
Mum Cindy Tolmia told The Sun Online she couldn’t believe it when her five-year-old son threatened to kill her and burn their house down.
She said her normally happy boy Milo even left her bruised after lashing out – even breaking a TV.
The 26-year-old said: “He was being quite angry and aggressive – he was doing things like saying he was going to set the house on fire, that he was going to kill us.
“It just wasn’t like him – I thought, what am I doing wrong?”
But it wasn’t until a few weeks after his sudden change in behaviour that Cindy saw a warning about the online character Momo – asking her son about it two days ago.
He was doing things like saying he was going to set the house on fire, that he was going to kill us
The mum, of Walton-on Thames in Surrey, said: “At first he said no when I asked about it but then I showed him a picture and that’s when he got upset.
“He flipped the phone out of my hand and said ‘take it off’ and that he never wanted to go on YouTube again.”
YouTube has insisted they have found “no evidence” of videos showing of promoting the challenge.
And confusingly, UK charities and Internet experts have even claimed the character is hoax.
But for parents like mum Gaynor Ball, the threat is all too real.
The 31-year-old said her eight-year-old daughter Francesca covered her ears and started screaming after she asked about Momo.
She said: “She’s genuinely scared by it.
“She couldn’t get to sleep on her own.”
The mum, of Staffordshire, said she was even scared herself by the image after researching it online.
Meanwhile, mum Jasmine Ward said her own eight-year-old son had been too scared to sleep in his own bed for months after seeing the ghoul-like figure.
FOR KIDS: How to say no
It can sometimes be hard to stand up to your friends, so Childline offers the following tips on how to say no:
1) Say it with confidence:
Be assertive. It’s your choice and you don’t have to do something which makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
2) Try not to judge them:
By respecting their choices, they should respect yours.
3) Spend time with friends who can say ‘no’:
It takes confidence and courage to say no to your friends. Spend time with other friends who also aren’t taking part.
4) Suggest something else to do:
If you don’t feel comfortable doing what your friends are doing, suggest something else to do.
Any child worried about peer pressure or online worries can contact Childline on 0800 1111.
The 25-year-old mum, of Leicestershire, said: “He won’t sleep in his own room anymore, he keeps sleeping with me now.
“When he first saw it, he wouldn’t stop talking about it – he started seeing pop ups of it on YouTube.”
She said son Jordan had told her he was scared Momo would “come get him”.
It comes as a child psychologist warned just a few seconds of the Momo character could haunt kids.
Emma Citron warned the sinister craze is “taking control” of childrens’ behaviour and have long-lasting affects.
Childhood trauma expert Emma told The Sun Online the Momo trend was “horrendous”, with children under 13 particularly vulnerable.
She said: “They can feel taken over by it, especially if it’s appearing frequently.
“It’s almost like it has power, deciding things and determining what they should do.”
SAFETY NET: How to keep your child safe online
The Internet can be an amazing tool to help children learn and play.
But with the digital world changing all the time, how can you make sure your child is safe?
Set up parental controls
- Parental controls can be used to block upsetting or harmful content, control in-app purchases or manage how long your child spends online
- The filters can help control what time of day your child can go online, and to stop them from downloading apps they are too young for
Talk to your children
- Have regular conversations about what your child is doing online
- Explore sites and apps together
- Talk about what personal information they should share online
- Create a family agreement about what behaviour is appropriate when they are online
Do your research
- Check through websites your child will use through the Net Aware
- Change privacy settings and turning off location sharing
If you need help now, you can phone experts on the free NSPCC & O2 helpline 0808 800 5002
UK schools up and down the country are warning parents to be on their guard as kids receive sick challenges to self-harm or death threats by the online character.
Police Service of Northern Ireland has even confirmed it is liaising with other UK forces over the ‘disturbing game’.
Detective Sergeant Elaine McCormill said: “This extremely disturbing challenge conceals itself within other harmless looking games or videos played by children and when downloaded, it asks the user to communicate with ‘Momo’ via popular messaging applications such as WhatsApp.
“It is at this point that children are threatened that they will be cursed or their family will be hurt if they do not self-harm.”
Police Scotland also released a warning, telling parents: “We would encourage parents not to panic, but instead sit down with their children and talk about all aspects of their online world and explain the potential dangers.”
Momo Challenge: The sick craze traumatising British kids
THE Momo Challenge is believed to have originated in South America.
The creepy face of a Japanese sculpture was hijacked and spread on WhatsApp – reportedly with instructions enticing children to perform a series of dangerous tasks including self-harm and suicide.
In recent days police and schools have issued warnings about the challenge arriving in the UK and a number of parents have said their children have been exposed to it.
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom even told MPs the Government is “extremely concerned” about it.
But confusingly UK charities and internet experts have suggested the challenge is a hoax.
The Samaritans and the NSPCC said there is no confirmed evidence anyone has come to physical harm.
And YouTube claimed: “We have found no evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube.”
While it appears the challenge itself may not have reached Britain, sick copycats have been traumatising children by splicing a ghoulish video of a bug-eyed girl into Peppa Pig cartoons and Fortnite gameplay footage.
MOST READ IN NEWS
A YouTube spokesman said: “Contrary to press reports, we’ve not received any recent evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube.
“Content of this kind would be in violation of our policies and removed immediately.”
However the company confirmed they have seen content reporting on the Momo character and people have sent them screenshots of thumbnails with the Momo character in it, but said the content had been ‘focused on discussing/documenting/reporting on the challenge and the character’.
To contact NSPCC, you can call the helpline on 0808 800 5000 or children under 18 can call 0800 1111
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans can be contacted on 020 7734 2800