Karnataka: Bizarre online game induces 14 girls to slit their forearms
The school principal called the girls and their parents to discuss the issue threadbare and to warn everyone not to repeat this as it could cause great harm
Around 14 girl students of a high school in a small Karnataka town slit their forearms to accept an online game challenge, sparking turmoil among parents, school authorities and the authorities.
Initially, the parents of the students were in the dark about the mysterious wounds because the girls chose to give various reasons including faring poorly in exams or being scolded at home.
One girl claimed she was bitten by a cat. Another said she got caught in thorny bushes.
It is only when the school became aware of the incident after being alerted by some parents that it was realized that all the affected girls were from one class at Dandeli in Uttara Kannada district, some 478 km from Bengaluru.
Although the incidents have been happening over two months, they became public knowledge only recently, creating a storm.
It has all now been put on a ‘cutting challenge’ online game, where children are challenged to inflict cuts on their body and post the picture on social media platforms.
Sources in the school said the students were playing a task game application similar to Blue Whale App.
The girls used either a blade or a sharp instrument to cut the forearm.
The worried principal of the school called in the girls and their parents to discuss the issue threadbare and to gently warn everyone not to repeat this as it could lead to dangerous consequences.
When the police got to know about the happenings, they pulled up the school for not alerting them. The school argued it did not want to escalate the matter since it had been tackled at its level.
It is not known if any of the students posted the images of their cut forearms on social media.
Police go soft
“Considering the request from parents, we have decided not to register police cases. We have advised children and their parents to be on the alert for such activities by children,” a senior police officer who did not want to be named told The Federal.
"The wounds were not deep and the cut injuries healed for many students. Luckily there were no serious injuries and proper medication was done by the parents even without knowing about the online game," one parent said. Police Sub-Inspector VR Gaddekar told The Federal that there was a strong possibility that mobile games were to blame for the mess.
“Now that the issue is being resolved at the school level and this is a sensitive matter, the police have decided not to file a case considering the future of the children,” he said.
Uttar Kannada Superintendent of Police Vishnuvardhan said the school and the education department were looking at the matter.
Education department officials are emphatic that all the girls were playing a mobile game connected to tasks and challenges. The parents were not aware of it.
“Around 14 girl students accepted this challenge. All of them belong to one class," the official added.
The school authorities and local officials now want the parents to monitor the students’ mobile phones more often and carefully. “Let the children not get involved with such dangerous games,” one official said.
The school has arranged an orientation programme by psychologists for the girls. According to the officials, there have been several such incidents where students and youths are becoming prey to such dangerous games on the Internet that can lead to serious injuries and even death.
The Union government has sent out an advisory regarding the online platforms which host these games. But a police officer said there was no ban on these applications due to technical and legal reasons.
Dr K Nararajaiah, a consultant in child psychology, said the parents and teachers have to take extra care about the children who go for gaming applications. “We can notice the behavioural changes in the children who are into these,” he said.