Clay County superintendent warns parents of 'Blue Whale Challenge'

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — There was a stern warning to parents from school leaders in Clay Country, about a dangerous online game targeting children. The game includes challenges that often lead to injury.

The game, called the “Blue Whale Challenge” is spreading worldwide. It’s a 50-day challenge where teens have to complete a long list of tasks, ranging from cutting themselves to eventually committing suicide.

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“It’s really scary and sickening to think that someone would make a game, a challenge to that degree,” said Nikki Glanville, a mother.

As many as 130 deaths are linked to the game in other countries. Tuesday, the Clay County superintendent sent a warning to parents that reads, in part, “We want to remain vigilant and proactive as we continue to provide the safest environment and experiences for your children.”

While no Florida students are believed to be involved, many in other states have been, and Clay County parents are taking notice.

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“Suicide is not a joke,” Glanville said.

When you look up "Blue Whale challenge" on Instagram, a notification asks how they can help, by providing information to a suicide hotline.

Full statement from Clay County Superintendent Addison G. Davis:

As a school district, we would like to inform everyone of a serious concern that is affecting our children and our community. Recently, there has been a rise in new games, social media challenges, and television shows that encourage young people to participate in harmful behavior or highlight the act of suicide.

The latest examples of this are a potentially deadly game called the “Blue Whale Challenge” and the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” The “Blue Whale Challenge” is posted on different social media platforms and assigns players self-harm tasks for 50 days, culminating in a final suicide attempt. Users are encouraged to tag each other on social media and then challenge others to participate in this dangerous game.

The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” has been covered in the media and discussed on social media outlets because of its controversial and sensitive content regarding bullying, sexual harassment, and suicide.

We included materials in the "Student Services" section of our district site as a resource for parents on how to discuss the series and its impact on youth. Please engage in healthy conversations about these topics as a family and also monitor your child’s social media activities.

We are not aware of any Clay County students who are involved in the "Blue Whale Challenge" or have acted on elements of the Netflix series, but we know the content of both are topics that are being discussed among teens.

We want to remain vigilant and proactive as we continue to provide the safest environment and experiences for your children, especially as we get ready for the summer vacation from school.

Below we have provided a link for dealing with risky behaviors and these sensitive topics. If you have any concerns, please reach out to your child's school or utilize our mental health student services resources on our district website: oneclay.net/mental-health.html.

This is an exciting time to be growing up in our great county, with so many opportunities to interact with each other in a variety of social media platforms.

However, we must be diligent in guiding our children on how to maneuver around the pitfalls to become responsible cyber-citizens. As a school system we are committed to supporting the whole family, as this will be paramount to truly maximizing outcomes for all children.

We hope you and your children have a safe and blessed summer full of exciting experiences to share with teachers and staff upon your child's return to school in August.

Please know that you are the most important partner we have in the process of educating children and youth.

Addison G. Davis
Superintendent of Schools

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