Bodmin College has issued a warning to parents about the dangers of the ‘Blue Whale Challenge’, which gets young people to undergo a series of challenges.
There have been concerns that the challenge may lead to young people being forced to take their own lives under threat of the release of personal information as well as death threats to them and their family.
The exact nature of the challenge is unknown, but it is believed that the social media dare involves young people undertaking a series of challenges over a period of 50 days with increasing severity and danger, leading to potential self-harm and suicide.
It says that the messages are being sent to schoolchildren via TikTok and Instagram.
The school says it has received an update from Devon and Cornwall Police since it issued their initial warning last week saying that youths and vulnerable children in the Camelford area have been sent messages requesting their personal information and then set a series of challenges over the time period.
In a message posted to Facebook, the school urged parents to be vigilant, writing: “Last week we shared information about a dangerous social media ‘trend’ called the Blue Whale Challenge. The challenges are given online or through text messages, instant messages, or posts being circulated on TikTok and Instagram.
“We have received another update from the police to say that messages are being sent to youths/vulnerable people in the Camelford area requesting their personal information and then different challenges are set over the course of 50 days.
“The internet is a great way for children and young people to stay in touch with their friends over the summer, but it can bring risks. Now more than ever it’s important to talk to your child about staying safe online and about the apps and sites they’re using.
“It’s vital that we all communicate and share information about this online threat. If you believe that any child is at risk of harm, contact the police by calling on 101 or 999.”
The warning about the dangerous challenge follows a similar warning from Falmouth School, which says some of the challenges involve young people watching scary movies, waking at certain times of the night, engraving a whale into your skin, and putting your head underwater until you pass out.
It also claims that the culmination of the challenge involves the participants being told to commit suicide on the 50th day with failure to do so resulting in the release of the personal information the young person has given in addition to threatening to kill the person and their family.
A statement from the school said: “Online social media challenge currently circulating called the Blue Whale Challenge. Messages are being sent to youths/vulnerable people requesting their personal information and then different challenges are set over the course on 50 days.
“These challenges include watching scary movies, waking at certain times of night, engraving a whale into your skin, putting your head underwater until you pass out.
“At the end of the 50 days, you are told to commit suicide. If challenges are not complied with they threaten to release your personal information and threaten to kill you and your family. This challenge is being circulated on TikTok and Instagram.”
The exact nature of the challenge is shrouded in mystery, but it’s alleged to have started in Russia before reports suggested it spread to other countries including Ukraine, India and the USA.
Hundreds of deaths worldwide have been reported to be linked to the so-called ‘suicide game’ although some have expressed concerns over how closely, if at all, the suicides of young people could be linked to the ‘challenge’.