Category Archives: parents

More than 30 people failed to report Nikolas Cruz’s ‘troubling behavior’ until after Parkland: report

More than 30 people who experienced or knew of Nikolas Cruz’s worrying behavior didn’t report it until 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year.

Cruz’s behavior was “troubling … and in many cases it probably should have caused them to report what they heard, saw or learned,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Tuesday, according to The Sun-Sentinel. “But for a variety of reasons they did not.”

Gualtieri, who also chairs the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission — which was created after the massacre at the school — disclosed the news Tuesday as the commission opened four days of hearings.

Cruz, the suspected shooter, reportedly engaged in questionable behavior long before the mass shooting in February — including killing animals. According to a sheriff’s office detective, Cruz once showed another student a photo of a decapitated cat.

The 19-year-old also allegedly “said he was glad they killed all those gay people” in reference to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which left 49 people dead.

Cruz also reportedly “made bad jokes about Jewish people, Nazis and Hitler and wished all Jews were dead” and said “he did not like black people and would like to shoot them.”

Days after the massacre, the FBI admitted to receiving a call about Cruz in early January. The person called their Public Access Line (PAL) tipline to express concerns about his erratic behavior and social media posts.

The FBI said in a statement at the time that “under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life” and that protocols were not followed after they received the tip.

The parents of Jaime Guttenberg, a student who was killed in the massacre, filed a lawsuit against the FBI on Tuesday because the tip wasn’t acted upon.

“Everybody failed, and this is going to be the shooting where we hold people accountable,” Guttenberg’s father, Fred, said at the hearing on Tuesday, The Miami Herald reported. “If only one person had stepped up and done their job, my daughter would be alive today.”

The Broward County sheriff said after the shooting said at least “20 calls for service” were made regarding Cruz in the last few years alone.

Gualtieri reiterated on Tuesday that if you “see something, say something.”

“It means something, and it has to be more than a phrase,” Gualtieri said. “We need it to resonate with the public because law enforcement simply cannot be everywhere at the same time, and we have to have the public’s help to effectively do our job.”

The sheriff’s detective said that while two students did report Cruz to school administrators in December 2016, they were ignored.

PARENT ALERT: Number Of Knives Confiscated In Schools Up 20 Percent From Last Year

National School Safety Taskforce

The haul of weapons — especially knives — intercepted in city schools has continued to spike this academic year, according to new NYPD data.

A year after a student was stabbed to death in a city classroom for the first time in 25 years, knife recoveries have jumped by 20 percent compared with the same stretch last year, according to the numbers.

Overall weapons confiscations have increased by 9 percent during the current school year compared to the same period last year, the data reveal.

The 2018-2019 increases come on top of a 28 percent rise in overall weapons recoveries in 2017-2018, including a 32 percent hike in intercepted knives, according to DOE data.

A total of 2,718 weapons were recovered over the course of the last academic year, up from 2,119 the year prior.

Since the start of this school year on Sept. 5 through Oct. 14, officials have confiscated 494 weapons in city school buildings, according to the NYPD.

That up from 453 during the same period last year.

So far, school personnel have recovered 284 blades compared with 234 last year — a full 20 percent increase.

Concern over the presence of knives in schools intensified last year after Abel Cedeno fatally stabbed one classmate and injured another at Urban Assembly of Wildlife Conservation in The Bronx.

The NYPD said there have been no guns detected so far this year, down from three that were intercepted during the same period last year.

The biggest percentage jump came in the “other” weapons category, which rose from 43 to 75 — a 74 percent increase. The NYPD defined the classification as “any object that can be considered a dangerous instrument,” but declined to provide examples.

Tasers and stun-gun recoveries have ticked up this year so far from five to eight while boxcutter confiscations fell from 159 to 126, according to the data.

“Weapons of any kind have absolutely no place in our schools, and our effective security measures ensure we are swiftly and safely recovering items without incident,” said DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot.

The DOE also stressed that the weapons spike has come amidst a sharp decline overall in major crimes in schools in recent years.

“Our schools continue to get safer, we have seen a 29 percent decrease in major crimes in schools since the 2013-14 school year, and we increased the frequency of unannounced scanning last year,” Barbot said.

By Selim Algar

Kristen Bell & Keira Knightley Think ‘Snow White’ ‘Cinderella’ Are Sexist For Children

Cinderella Sexist

Kristen Bell, the voice of Anna in Disney’s hit animated film “Frozen,” revealed in an interview published Wednesday her concerns about the message “Snow White” sends to her two daughters.

Bell told Parents magazine that she asks her daughters, “Don’t you think that it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission? Because you cannot kiss someone if they’re sleeping!” she said.

The 38-year-old actress appeared to worry about the message of consent, particularly what it means for her young girls Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 3.

Bell, who reads to her daughters every night, also expressed concerns about the part when Snow White eats an apple from the witch — a stranger.

“Everytime we close Snow White I look at my girls and ask ‘Don’t you think it’s weird that Snow White didn’t ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got the apple?’ I say, ‘I would never take food from a stranger, would you?’ And my kids are like, ‘No!’ And I’m like, ‘OK, I’m doing something right,'” she told the magazine.

In the 1938 Disney film, Snow White falls into deathless sleep after eating a poison apple from a jealous witch, until a prince wakes her with true love’s kiss.

Keira Knightley, appearing Tuesday on the talk show “Ellen,” said her 3-year-old daughter is banned from “Cinderella.”

“Because she waits around for a rich guy to rescue her. Don’t. Rescue yourself, obviously,” Knightley said.

The 33-year-old actress said “Little Mermaid” is also banned, even though she loves the film.

“I mean, the songs are great, but do not give your voice up for a man. Hello,” she said.

But she said “Finding Dory” is a “big favorite,” and “Frozen is huge, Moana is totally fine.”

Knightley was also promoting her upcoming Disney film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” on the show.

By Amy Lieu 

The Disgrace & Crimes of Norway’s Child Protection Agency: Child Porn and Abuse

Child Porn

Norway is set to review a series of controversial child protection decisions involving a prominent expert convicted of downloading hundreds of thousands of images of child sex abuse.

For years the psychiatrist played a key role in recommendations on children being taken into care.

He was given nearly two years in jail by an Oslo court in April.

The decision to review his cases follows a public debate sparked by a BBC investigation.

One family, whose two youngest children were kept in foster care following an intervention by the child psychiatrist, has already been reunited in the past few weeks following a court judgement. The Arnesens’ story featured in the BBC investigation.

Norway’s child protection agency, Barnevernet, has come under attack from some parents and child welfare professionals who say it often takes children into care without adequate justification.

Child protection expert who worked across Norway

The 56-year-old psychiatrist, who is not being named to protect his children, had admitted downloading nearly 200,000 pictures and more than 12,000 videos showing the sexual abuse or sexualisation of children.

The court heard that some images appeared to show infants being raped by adult men.

The psychiatrist, who is appealing against his sentence, said he had been viewing the material for 20 years.

During that time the psychiatrist was appointed to the prestigious 14-member Child Expert Commission, which oversees childcare recommendations throughout Norway. He has also been employed as an expert by various local authorities across the country.

His professional licence to work has been withdrawn but the Board of Health Supervision said after his conviction that they would not be re-examining previous cases he was involved in – despite calls from some parents to do so.

How did Norway respond to scandal?

In June, the children and equality ministry told the BBC it could not comment on the case, and declined a request for an interview.

Now, after considering its “handling of this case during the summer”, it has called on local authorities to look into the psychiatrist’s past cases, and told the health supervision board to work out how that can be done with the involvement of parents. The case raised several issues that had not been previously assessed, it told the BBC.

Borge Tomter, head of child welfare on the health supervision board, said: “I think we are going to assess every case if possible.” But he added he did not yet know how many cases there were.

The psychiatrist himself said 10 years ago that he had been employed as an expert assessor in between 50 and 75 child protection cases.

The Child Expert Commission, in which he was involved more recently, reviews some 750 welfare recommendations every year. The head of the commission, Katrin Koch, told the BBC in July that she had looked into some of his reports and found no cause for concern.

The ministry said no authority had “a complete overview” of the number of cases and “this challenge” was part of the review.

Family’s five-year battle against authority

Inez Arnesen, a mother of eight and local politician from Tonsberg in southern Norway, whose two youngest children were returned to her in August after five years in care, welcomed plans for a review but said: “It has to be done by someone from outside the system who can look at each case with fresh eyes.”

She questioned how parents could take part in the review when most Norwegians did not know the name of the psychiatrist concerned.

Four of her children were put into foster care in 2013 following allegations that she had used physical force on her children, which is outlawed in Norway.

Three years later, a criminal court acquitted her of the charges. Two of her children were then returned – but the youngest two were not. That followed criticism by the now-disgraced psychiatrist of a report recommending that they be allowed to return home.

But last month, the family successfully argued that in light of the psychiatrist’s conviction, that criticism should now be disregarded.

Now her son Christian, 11, and daughter Vendela, aged 12, are gradually readjusting to life with their parents.

“We didn’t cross the finish line when we won,” Inez says. “We still have to get family dynamics back and we have to co-operate with the Child Protection Service. They had my head on the block for five years. I’m willing to cooperate with them, but it’s strange.”

Another mother, Cecilie, whose daughter is in care following a recommendation co-authored by the disgraced psychiatrist, praised the decision to hold a review.

But she said: “I’m not very hopeful. They want people to see that they are doing something, but they are not eager to do it.”

Following the BBC documentary Norway’s Silent Scandal, which examined the implications of the psychiatrist’s conviction, Children’s Minister Linda Hofstad Helleland was criticised by a series of prominent child welfare professionals for failing to defend the system publicly.

In an interview earlier this month she said: “To have the care for a child taken away must be one of the most desperate things a parent can experience.”

But she added: “Where a conflict arises between the interests of the child and the parents, we shall be on the child’s side. On this point I won’t give an inch.”

By Tim Whewell

BREAKING! Report: Parkland Shooter Denied Special Needs Care 14 Months Before Shooting

Nikolas Cruz
In two instances, “school officials did not follow the requirements of Florida statute or federal laws governing students with disabilities”

Following the Parkland shooting that left 17 people dead, the Broward County School District commissioned an independent review.  The review, conducted by the Collaborative Educational Network of Tallahassee, found that the shooter was inappropriately denied special needs accommodations at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A Broward County judge ordered public release of the report, entitled “Independent Review of ‘NC’s’ Education Record,” and though much of it was redacted, the Sun Sentinel found that the redacted portions could be read by copying and pasting the text into another document.

The Sun Sentinel reports:

In the year leading up to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killer Nikolas Cruz was stripped of the therapeutic services disabled students need, leaving him to navigate his schooling as a regular student despite mounds of evidence that he wasn’t.

When he asked to return to a special education campus, school officials fumbled his request.

Those conclusions were revealed Friday in a consultant’s report commissioned by the Broward public school system. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer ordered that the report be released publicly, but with nearly two-thirds of the content blacked out.

The school district said the alterations were needed to comply with the shooter’s privacy rights, but the method the district used to conceal the text failed. The blacked-out text became visible when pasted into another computer file.

The consultant found two specific instances of failure by the school officials.

The Sun Sentinel continues:

Without directly criticizing the schools, the consultant, the Collaborative Educational Network of Tallahassee, recommended that the district reconsider how cases like Cruz’s are handled. The recommendations suggest that Cruz could have been offered more help in his final two years in high school, leading up to the Feb. 14 shooting.

Whether that would have changed the outcome is impossible to know.

The consultant found that the district largely followed the laws, providing special education to the shooter starting when he was 3 years old and had already been kicked out of day care. But “two specific instances were identified,” the report says, where school officials did not follow the requirements of Florida statute or federal laws governing students with disabilities.

Those instances:

— School officials misstated Cruz’s options when he was faced with being removed from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School his junior year, leading him to refuse special education services.

— When Cruz asked to return to the therapeutic environment of Cross Creek School for special education students, the district “did not follow through,” the report reveals.

The school’s misstatement regarding Cruz’s options resulted in his having no special needs care for over year before his deadly rampage.  Even classified as a general admission student, however, he should have had access to school counseling and related mental health services.

Fox News reports:

School officials misstated Cruz’s options when he was faced with removal from the Florida high school his junior, which led him to refuse special education services, according to the report.

When Cruz was asked to return to the therapeutic environment of Cross Creek School for special education students, the district “did not follow through,” the report said.

“Upon entering the room and seeing the Cross Creek representatives, the student immediately became upset and verbally aggressive. He refused to sit at the table, angrily repeating that he would not go back to Cross Creek and that he wanted only to stay at Stoneman. He intended to graduate from the school,” the report said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

. . . Three days after he was forced by the district to withdraw from Stoneman Douglas High, he purchased an AR-15 rifle. Then, a year after his ejection from the school, he returned for the mass shooting.

The district treated him “like a general education student” for his final two years, but even those students should have access to counseling and mental health services, the report said.

The shooter’s attorneys call the report an attempt to “whitewash” the failings of the school and of the school district.

Fox News continues:

But Cruz’s attorneys called the report a “whitewash” commissioned by the district to absolve it of responsibility for its handling of Cruz’s psychological problems, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

“I think that the report is an attempt by the school board to absolve itself of any liability or responsibility for all the missed opportunities that they had in this matter,” said Gordon Weekes, the chief assistant public defender.

Posted by     Sunday, August 5, 2018 at 5:00pm

ALERT: Minnesota Serial Rapist with 60 Adult and Child Victims to be Released

Victim of Thomas Ray Duvall serial rapist

One of Minnesota’s most violent and infamous sex offenders — who has admitted to raping more than 60 women and who has quickly re-offended every time he’s been previously released from prison — is set to go free yet again, after more than 30 years behind bars.

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a request by the state’s Department of Human Services to review the case of Thomas Ray Duvall, a serial rapist who admitted to brutally raping dozens of teenage girls in the 1970s and 1980s.

The court’s ruling comes two months after the state Court of Appeals ruled Duvall should be allowed to be released into the community — under supervision — after spending three decades behind bars, the Star Tribune reported.

The ruling ends a five-year legal battle over Duvall’s future. The case set off a political firestorm over Minnesota’s civil commitment system, which confines sex offenders indefinitely after their prison terms ends.

“I am honestly so devastated, I have no words at this moment,” a family member of one of Duvall’s victims told FOX9 after the court’s ruling. “We are terrified. The public needs to know how dangerous Duvall is.”

Duvall, now 63, committed his first known sexual assault in 1975, when he and two other males raped a 17-year-old girl. He re-offended three years later when he picked up a 17-year-old girl at the State Fair, promised to drive her home, and instead raped her.

Within months of his release from prison for that crime, he attempted to force another woman into his car and threatened her with a knife, the Star Tribune reported.

Over the next decade, Duvall was arrested – and released – multiple times for raping several other teenagers, including a 14-year-old and 15-year-old in 1982.

Duvall was finally sentenced to his current term, 20 years in prison, after he was nabbed for raping a 17-year-old girl inside a Brooklyn Park apartment — just 12 days after his release from jail in 1987. According to the Star Tribune, Duvall talked his way into the apartment a day after Christmas, bound the teenager with an electric cord and then repeatedly raped her for more than three hours while hitting her with a hammer.

In 1991, Duvall was civilly committed as a psychopathic personality and sent to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. Duvall was diagnosed as a sexual sadist and has admitted to more than 60 victims, the Star Tribune reported.

In June 2015, U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank ruled the state’s sex offender program was unconstitutional, calling it a “punitive system” that violates offenders’ rights to due process. Frank’s ruling was later overturned by a higher court, but signified a shift among specialists to be more willing to support offenders’ petitions for conditional release.

The Star Tribune reported that, before Frank’s ruling, only three sex offenders had been discharged from the program in its 20-year history. Since then, the number has risen to 26.

At a trial last spring, Duvall testified he had earned his right to a provisional discharge and had learned to control his violent sexual fantasies.

At the same trial, three outside evaluators testified that Duvall should not be released from the program, arguing he remains fixated on deviant and violent sexual thoughts despite treatment. One of the evaluators, forensic psychologist Dr. James Alsdurf, described Duvall as “obsessed with sex – most of it violent,” the Star Tribune reported.

Meanwhile, the program’s own staff described Duvall as a model detainee who was committed to his treatment program – testimony the appeals court panel heavily relied on when saying he should be released into the community — despite acknowledging that Duvall still has a risk of reoffending, given his violent history.

Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said in statement that she opposed Duvall’s release “out of a deep concern for public safety.”

The Star Tribune reported Duvall is expected to be released to a secure group home in the Twin Cities this fall. If he violates any of the more than two dozen conditions of his plan, the sex offender program can revoke his discharge and place him back in confinement.

By 

PARENTS: Out of Control Schools Teachers Not Disciplining Students

National School Safety Taskforce

Ask anyone who has worked in some of America’s failing public schools and nearly all of them will tell you the same thing: The biggest problem isn’t the quality of the teachers. It’s the behavior of the kids; angry, disruptive, disrespectful kids whose behavior is out of control. This is true not only in the poor schools in the inner cities, but in schools in the largely white rural parts of the US as well. The kids themselves are only partly to blame — students, after all, are what adults make them.

In the year I spent as a substitute teacher in some of the toughest schools in inner city Los Angeles, chronicled in my new book “Sit Down and Shut Up: How Discipline Can Set Students Free” (St. Martin’s Press), I was threatened and cursed by students more times than I could count.

One kid called me an “Urkel-looking motherf–ker.” That part was the kid’s fault (or maybe that of his parents). But what happened next wasn’t. I called the hall monitor and had him taken to the principal’s office. But soon after, he came back into my class with a note that read, “Okay to return to class.” There was no apology, no detention, no one called at home. He didn’t have to write a letter explaining why he’d erupted so angrily, and he most certainly wasn’t suspended.

This was the fault of the adults in the school. In the course of a generation, this behavior from kids — coupled with either no reaction or an overreaction by adults — has gotten worse.

It wasn’t always thus.

After a particularly difficult day, a teacher who had also attended the school as a teenager remarked to me, “This school was always tough, but we used to fight each other; [now] they fight the teacher.”

What happened between the time that teacher (and I) were kids to now to mark such a dramatic shift? I spent a year trying to unlock that mystery.

One culprit is the United Nations, and the notion of children’s rights.

My first encounter with the idea of children’s rights was at a middle school where the students were so unruly that at least a half-dozen teachers had quit from exhaustion, including the one for whom I was substituting. A group of kids was roughhousing and cursing as others were trying to complete work. Because of one student’s foul language and because he’d launched an eraser in my general direction, I threatened to hold him in for recess — a punishment teachers have been doling out to kids since recess was invented.

But he and his friends, none more than 5 feet tall, told me that I couldn’t do that because they “have a right to play.” Having schooled me to their satisfaction, they promptly went back to swinging from the rafters and ignoring anything else I said that day.

I thought it was a joke until the assistant principal reprimanded me when I tried to make good on my threat.

An international treaty called the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which was adopted in 1989, defined the notion of what a child is and is not entitled to. It would become the most ratified treaty in UN history. The treaty is smart and wise in many ways, insisting that children have a right to shelter and the right to be protected in war. My favorite part states that children have a right to a name. That’s both beautiful and sad: Imagine what it must be like to be a child and have never been given a name.

But it doesn’t end there.

The UN treaty insists that young people be given the right to freedom of speech and the right to practice their own religion or no religion as they see fit. (I shudder to think what would have happened had I told my preacher father that I had a right not to go to church when he was dragging me out of bed on Sunday mornings.)

Maybe you think that 30-year international law — which, by the way, the US never ratified — has had no impact on America’s public schools. Think again. Article 31 says, “State Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child.” There it is: the right to play. Schools have taken it upon themselves to spread to these students that they have inalienable right to play, even when they misbehave — and the kids have taken it up with gusto.

Legislators in California have been trying to pass a children’s rights bill similar to the UN treaty, enshrining at the state level what Congress refused to do 30 years ago.

In another instance, I tried to send a kid to the office for being disruptive. Surely that wasn’t outlawed? Wrong again. An administrator chastised me that they don’t allow teachers to send disruptive students to the office. Instead, they “let the students decide when they want to take a break,” because, according to her, sending students to the office takes away the student’s autonomy.

The policy was specific to that school, not a politically organized desire to follow the convention, but the effect was powerful nonetheless — and poorly reasoned. Since when has a middle-schooler who is having the time of his life with his friends and ignoring everything a teacher says, suddenly stopped and thought, “You know what, let me step outside on a break and then go back in and focus on the homework I didn’t do last night”?

I don’t want to overstate the issue. There are more factors at play than just a UN charter — including the rise of charter schools and the elimination of basic forms of discipline like detention and suspension.

The adolescent chaos that comes from economically depressed communities has many sources. We are all rightly horrified by the extreme punishments meted out to students by aggressive adults: a kid thrown to the ground by a cop simply because she refused to surrender her phone, another kid put in juvenile detention for four days because of a dress-code violation. But going too far in the other direction — allowing kids greater freedoms without thinking of the unintended consequences — makes them into adults before they are ready to think and behave as adults.

This is surely what led former dean of Harvard Law School Martha Minow to write that “advocates of children’s rights use the same rights . . . to place them in the same legal category as adults.” Turning kids into adults in this way, and allowing them to behave however they choose without reasonable consequences for those actions, turns children into slaves of their impulses. This is the opposite of freedom.

By Cinque Henderson

New Jersey school slammed for turning away students for minor dress code violations. GOOD FOR THEM!

National School Safety Taskforce
National School Safety Taskforce

Dress codes are a critical part of a well managed school.

  1. Dress codes create order which helps in the learning process of students.
  2. Dress codes reduce sexual contact and harassment.
  3. Dress codes teach children how to dress professionally when they become adults.

By 

One New Jersey charter school’s decision to turn away students on the first day of classes for seemingly minor dress code violations has outraged many, both within and beyond the school community.

On August 27, reportedly “half” of the high schoolers enrolled at Marion P. Thomas Charter School in Newark were dismissed upon arrival for their first day of classes for being out of uniform, NJ.com reports.

As the students proceeded to gather at a nearby park, local basketball coach Ma’at Mys spotted the group and paused the youth basketball camp he was running to investigate what happened.

“Marion P Thomas locked their doors to students who don’t have belts or all black shoes,” Mys wrote in a Facebook post with footage he captured at the time of conversations between himself and the Thomas students. “This is how charter schools help high risk children. If you have a child at the school, reach out to them.”

The clip has since gone viral with over 121,000 views and sparked great debate on the social platform.

While some Facebook commenters voiced support for the teens’ dismissal over the uniform abuses, others were furious that the students were refused entry – on the first day of classes – and were effectively locked out of the building.

Meanwhile, Interim Chief School Administrator Misha Simmonds told NJ.com that parents were immediately contacted if their child had been dismissed, and that school officials soon acknowledged that “turning students away wasn’t the best approach for student safety.”

School administrators issued a letter next day that did not apologize for the incident but explained the logic behind the controversial decision.

“Since its inception, Marion P. Thomas Charter School has had a uniform policy. The policy is intended to help our school promote a more effective learning environment, foster school unity and bridge socioeconomic differences between children. Wearing a uniform teaches students appropriate dress and decorum in school, helps to improve student conduct and discipline and prepares them for their future workplace,” the statement read.

“Our high school team wanted to ensure our students complied with this policy, for all of the reasons aforementioned. Their best intentions led to some students being asked to return home. We have communicated with our families who were impacted by this decision.

“While we realize school policies are important, we recognize that our students’ well-being is our utmost importance. Therefore, we have implemented a process that will not compromise the safety of our high school students.”

Moving forward, the Thomas school has launched a fundraiser to gather regulation uniforms, footwear and accessories to “stock an emergency closet for our students.” In addition, Thomas students have been provided black tape to conceal any white detailing on their school shoes, Yahoo Lifestyle reports.

Viral ‘Momo suicide game’ blamed for deaths of boy and girl

Momo-suicide-challenge

Two youths in Colombia reportedly committed suicide in late August as the sick “Momo suicide challenge” continues to spread worldwide.

A 12-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy took their own lives, within just 48 hours of each other, according to local radio outlet Caracol. The deaths happened in the municipality of Barbosa, in the north west part of the Colombian area of Santander, according to the Daily Mail.

Local media, including RCN Radio, reported the teen boy likely knew the younger girl and passed the game to her, before killing himself. A mere 48 hours later, the 12-year-old girl was found hanged.

Police seized the children’s phones, which were said to have messages linking them to the Momo suicide game.

“Apparently, they practiced this game through WhatsApp and it invited the young people to hurt themselves,” government secretary Janier Landono said. “The game has different challenges and the suicide is at the end.”

The reported deaths are the first to be linked to the game in Colombia, which is thought to have originated on a Facebook group page. Police in Argentina are investigating whether “Momo” is linked to the suicide of a 12-year-old girl in the district of Escobar, which occurred last month.

WhatsApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

The vile “Momo suicide game” has been garnering attention after it began spreading on WhatsApp, prompting police warnings. If players fail to complete the challenges in the game, they receive threatening messages from an avatar dubbed Momo, a bird-like woman with eyes protruding out of her head, who says the user will be cursed with an “evil spell.”

There is also a Momo doll created by Japanese doll artist Midori Hayashi, though Hayashi has nothing to do with the vulgar video game.

“Momo” is a viral challenge that asks people to add a contact via WhatsApp. The user is then urged to commit self-harm or suicide. The “game” has fueled comparisons to the sinister “Blue Whale challenge” that led to reports of suicides in Russia and the U.S, as well as the online fictional character of “Slender Man.” In 2014, two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin attempted to kill a classmate in an attempt to please the horror character.

Last month, the “Momo” game made its way into the popular “Minecraft” video game, which prompted Microsoft to clamp down on it.