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Authorities Dismayed by Dangerous ‘48-Hour Challenge’

A child plays with a smartphone in his bedroom in San Salvador on October 7, 2018.
MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images
NATE CHURCH

The Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office in Indiana is among the first to respond to a “game” in which children falsely report they are missing for 48 hours.

The premise is as simple as it is irresponsible. Young people purposely go missing for two days and score “points” for every time their name is mentioned on social media. Whomever people are most worried about wins. And while the game is already cruel in concept, in practice it is much worse.

“We are not trying to cause a panic among our community,” the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office posted to Facebook on Monday, “but we would not be doing our job if we didn’t make you aware of a new ‘challenge’ that could become an issue.”

Chief Deputy Steve Hartman said the police “have enough work to do without kids creating work for us if they go missing because they think it’s funny.”

Other members of law enforcement are warning their respective communities, but there have been no confirmed cases of people playing the game so far. Europe faced a similar issue in 2015 with the “Game of 72.” The real danger is that any individual “playing” such a game is taking available resources away from those in need.

“First you had the Tide Pod Challenge and then you had The Birdbox Challenge and now this challenge,” Overland Park Police Officer John Lacy said. Still, there is no choice but to pursue all reports, even if such a stunt is suspected. “We are going to take that call very serious,” Lacy said. “You are wasting our time, and you are wasting our resources.”

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