A five-year-old boy’s mother claims he is terrified to leave her side after a creepy ‘Momo’ character popped up while he watched Peppa Pig and said his family would all be murdered.
Harry Giblin, from Withernsea, near Hull, was left sobbing when the ghoulish female with distorted features and straggly hair said she would kill his relatives.
For more than 24 hours the emotional five-year-old kept the threat secret from his mother Sophie – fearing it could come true – until the ordeal was teased out of him.
Ms Giblin said that this incident after school meant that ‘for the past few weeks he has been terrified to leave my side’.
She added: ‘He sat down and told me he’d seen Momo several times, while watching YouTube videos. He told me it was a secret, and that the videos told him he was a naughty boy, and not to tell me because if they did it would hurt his family’.
Harry appears to have been the victim of a sick prankster who spliced the evil character into a Peppa Pig episode and put it on YouTube, although the video streaming giant said today it hasn’t found ‘recent evidence’ of the disturbing challenge.
Momo has been linked to the death of a girl from Argentina, a boy in France and another boy in Belgium, however, there has been no link to suicides in the UK, charities have said.
Despite complaints for scores of parents Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said charities were telling her there was ‘no confirmed evidence’ Momo had led any children in the UK to self-harm.
Sophie Giblin says her son Harry was left traumatised and fearing his family would be murdered after a ‘Momo’ doll popped up while he watched Peppa Pig on YouTube
Momo is a game which has been created based on the creepy character (left) which was originally displayed at Tokyo’s horror Vanilla Gallery under the name ‘Mother Bird’ – and now it is reportedly being used to terrify children into harming themselves
She told the Mirror: ‘It got so bad he wouldn’t let go of the car door when it came to go to school, sobbing. He dropped out of all of his after-school clubs. He didn’t want to be away from me.
What is the horrifying Momo challenge and where has it come from?
The chilling image of ‘Momo’ is the creation of Japanese artist Midori Hayashi – but was hijacked by sick pranksters two years ago and used to try to blackmail children into self-harm.
Cruel tricksters began using the image on the internet in 2016 – there have been links to the deaths of at least three children outside the UK.
Children are encouraged to contact a number – freely available on social media and some online games – via the messaging service WhatsApp.
Violent images are then sent to the youngsters’ phones, with strangers setting a series of tasks that they must carry out, escalating in severity and including self-harm.
It is claimed that threats sent to youngsters include being ‘killed in their sleep’ or their families being murdered.
In WhatsApp messages and texts the children are told how to hurt someone – and the last post tells the victim to take their own lives.
And in a new twist some parents have warned that a new version of the challenge are being spliced into online videos of popular children’s programmes such as Peppa Pig, terrifying even younger children.
There are also complaints about the hijacking of online games. Children wanting to quit the game are threatened with their personal details being leaked online.
‘He watches videos of Peppa Pig, and people playing Minecraft and Roblox, just normal videos I thought weren’t at all harmful. And he said Momo just comes up in the middle of it’.
Headteachers have already warned parents that the online ‘suicide game’, which encourages children to hurt themselves, is being spliced into videos by online predators.
The ‘Momo challenge’ encourages youngsters to cut, burn or poison themselves and ultimately take their own lives.
Schools across Britain are now warning that the game is popping up in episodes of children’s cartoons or games such as Fortnight and Minecraft on video sharing platform YouTube.
Police forces in London, Derbyshire and Northern Ireland have also sent out warnings for parents to be vigilant.
The game appears light-hearted and fun to begin with, with video clips encouraging children to contact ‘Momo’ and provide their mobile number.
But it quickly takes a dark turn, with children receiving messages from a creepy ‘mother bird’ character with bulging eyes and sinister grin telling them to hurt themselves.
Refusal to comply results in abusive messages, disturbing photos or the phone being hacked, and the final challenge is for the child to commit suicide.
A number of schools have now posted warnings on their websites after receiving calls from horrified parents.
+Among them was Offley Endowed Primary in Hertfordshire which wrote: ‘We are aware of Momo challenges that are appearing as pop-ups on YouTube Kids, Fortnite and Peppa Pig etc and will be talking to the children about it in assembly.’
This little girl hacked off her shoulder length hair (left) after listening to Momo in another online sick stunt
YouTube says it hasn’t found ‘ANY recent evidence’ of disturbing Momo challenge despite parent reports
YouTube has insisted said it had seen no evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on its platform.
Parents and schools have claimed that children have been left upset by the videos.
YouTube responded to the reports today after initially staying silent on the topic.
‘Contrary to press reports, we’ve not received any recent evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube,’ a YouTube spokesman said last night.
He added: ‘Content of this kind would be in violation of our policies and removed immediately.’
Yet the authorities and schools have issued warnings to parents across social media to be on the lookout for the references to the disturbing challenge.
In a chilling Facebook post this week, a concerned mother shared her six-year-old daughter’s detailed account of how she was targeted by the Momo Challenge while watching a Peppa Pig video on YouTube Kids.
And now Sophie Giblin’s son Harry has said the same.
Haslingden Primary School in Rossendale, also warned about Momo appearing on YouTube clips showing ‘a warped white mask which is promoting children to do dangerous tasks without telling their parents.’
They added: ‘Examples we have noticed in school include asking the children to turn the gas on or to find and take tablets.’
Craig Wardle, head teacher of Cleve House school in Bristol, sent a letter to parents warning them about the online craze.
It said: ‘Light-hearted and fun at the outset, this game experience quickly darkens, absorbing players who are encouraged to perform acts of violence and self-harm through a series of progressively risky tasks.’
Mr Wardle, 51, said yesterday: ‘The first time we came across it was when a concerned parents got in touch.
‘Things don’t always turn out to be what they appear as.
‘It is a danger and it would be irresponsible for us to disregard it.’
Earlier this week mother Lyn Dixon told how her eight year old son became frightened of the dark and was scared to be alone after Momo appeared on YouTube videos he was watching.
The mother, from Edinburgh, said: ‘He said that she had told him to go into the kitchen drawer and take out a knife and put it into his neck. It’s frightening, really frightening.’
Parents have been advised to set controls on their child’s devices and monitor what they are watching.
Guidelines have now been issued by the National Online Safety Group in order to inform parents of what they need to know about Momo
Haslingden Primary School issued the above statement after children had reportedly been told to turn the gas on and to take tablets
No one knows who is behind Momo, though has been linked to phone numbers in Japan and areas of Latin America.
The original avatar was created by a Japanese special effects company which has nothing to do with the game, and their work was stolen when it was photographed at an exhibition.
YouTube said it had not received any complaints about the challenge being on its site.
A YouTube spokesman said: ‘Contrary to press reports, we have not received any 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.’