The Guardia Civil has advised parents to be alert for the Momo Challenge, a cyber-bullying practice that incites children to harm themselves. It spreads through social media and cell phones, police say, adding that they decided to alert parents after becoming aware of incidences in Spain following a five-year-old child stabbing itself in the neck in Edinburgh. Police say that children are encouraged to contact a user called “Momo” by whom they are then threatened and told to do something that will harm themselves.

Police raised the alert last year, with some experts believing that the Momo challenge is mainly a phishing exercise used by hackers but even if so, the methodology includes threats, suicide encouragement, and clear victims of physical abuse, albeit self-inflicted after incitement. And with the case in Edinburgh, police are again urging parents to be vigilant, and to talk to their children about the specific and wider implications of such viral campaigns, none of which are positive even if the number of children who have actually hurt themselves is still low.

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