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‘Momo’ challenge hits the Southern Tier, how to keep your children safe

(WBNG) — The Momo challenge is trending across the United States and it’s encouraging children to perform acts of self harm.

12 News spoke with Education and Outreach Supervisor at the Crime Victims Assistance Center, Jennifer Spencer in Endicott.

She explains, “Children are watching age appropriate YouTube content and in the middle of watching what normally wouldn’t set off any alerts, something will pop up and it might be Momo, who then tries to entice children to message her on WhatsApp or another platform.”

Spencer says Momo gives a phone number for children to contact her through.

Then, “this particular Momo challenge involves a lot of harm to the self before escalating at points to trying to attempt to potentially end a child’s life.”

If you don’t follow through, Spencer says Momo makes threats, motivating students to perform the acts out of fear.

Spencer visited a local elementary school Wednesday, where she says students have heard of Momo.

Local mother of five Shannon Gillette, however, hadn’t heard of the challenge yet, saying, “it’s scary, but it’s also a part of what we live in in this society.”

She’s a technology teacher in the Union Endicott School District and says the number one way of dealing with trends like Momo is open communication.

“You really have the right to see what they’re doing, to ask them what’s happening, to even say can I have your passwords, I’d love to log in as you and see what you see.”

And remember, you won’t be able to monitor everything your children see, so rely on your adult network.

“The more adults that are on the same page and that are looking for the same things, we can be proactive.”

12 News reached out to YouTube regarding the challenge, they said in a statement:

“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.”

We also reached out to WhatsApp and have not heard back.

Julia Gorman

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