48-Hour Missing Challenge: Is It Real or a Hoax?

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News about a “48 Hour Missing Challenge” has resurfaced in media reports and on social media recently, after the challenge first gained attention in the UK in 2017. But is it real? So far, all reports about people participating in the challenge haven’t been verified. There’s no evidence to suggest, at this time, that anyone is actively participating in the challenge. Read on for more details.

A North Carolina Teen Who Went Missing While Hiding at Home Said She Wasn’t Participating in the Challenge

On January 24, 2019, police in North Carolina found that missing teen Diana Clawson wasn’t missing, but just hiding in her home, WCNC reported. She didn’t get on her school bus or arrive at school, causing her family extreme worry. She was found about 24 hours after she was reported missing, hiding under her bed, WATE reported.

Searchers told reporters that she was participating in the 48-Hour Challenge. This was the only indication that the challenge was real or she was taking part in it. Diana’s mother, Tanya, disputed this rumor, and the searchers who made the claim were never named. Tanya said her daughter wasn’t participating in the challenge and the rumors were hurtful.

So far, this is the sole case that has caused the 48-Hour Challenge to resurface in media reports in 2019.

Authorities Are Asking Kids Not To Participate, Just In Case It’s Real

Theoretically, participating in the challenge could cause a drag on police resources that could be better used for other purposes. So police are asking children and teens not to participate, just in case it’s real. Officer Johnathan Frisk of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Crime Prevention told WCNC: “When we talk about anybody going missing, it’s very dangerous, and we immediately send out a ton of resources because every second counts. To find out a person was hiding, is a big issue.”

Rumors Surfaced in 2017 Based on a Case in Ireland that Involved Just a Couple Teens & No Names Were Released

Numerous reports about the challenge surfaced in the UK in 2017, but they weren’t verified. The Daily Mail wrote a short piece about the Challenge in October 2017, saying that teens were being urged to run away for two days and sever all contact. The reports also claimed that participants got a higher score if they were mentioned on social media.

There were no screenshots or verifying evidence to prove the challenge existed, however. The article simply talked about a girl who disappeared in France in 2015, and then another incident in 2017 in Ireland.

The article also quoted a mother who talked to Belfast Live as saying about her son, “This is a competition and it’s sick. The anxiety it left our family in is unspeakable… But these kids just think it’s funny. There was not even a moment of remorse when my child was taken into police custody and when the police brought my child home, I could see posts of selfies from the police car.”

The mother’s name was never included in the Daily Mail story, just a vague reference to police warning others at her 14-year-old son’s school. Visiting the original Belfast Live article from 2017 revealed a bit more. The Belfast Live article said that the disappearance happened in Co Derry in Northern Ireland and involved not just the mom’s son but other children. “My child and others left Co Down and Co Antrim and were found 55 hours later in Ballymena… I’ve been told my child and friends are in the lead in this competition because they managed to vanish for 55 hours before they were discovered.”

The article noted that teens told police officers, while the children were missing, that the challenge was just 48 hours long and would end soon. This article, however, also does not provide any names of the people involved. It appears this could have just been a prank or a personal challenge involving a small group of children.

All other reports about the same incident seemed to just link to the Belfast Live article and never mentioned any of the specific people involved either.

In conclusion, the 2017 rumors were all based on one case, reported in one media publication, with names that weren’t released. This makes it tough to verify the authenticity of the claims, and leaves it possible that the case was a prank or challenge among a small group of teens in one city, if it was even that.

The 48 Hour Challenge Was Once Called The Game of 72, But 2015 Cases Thought To Be Related Were Debunked

The rumors about the game actually started in 2015, when the challenge was called The Game of 72 and once involved encouraging people to disappear for 72 hours, according to reports.

But this also had some misleading points. Constable Brian Montague of the Vancouver Police Department told Mic that despite media sources reporting that their department was warning the public about the challenge, that didn’t actually happen. “We never issued a warning about the game as has been reported,” he told Mic. “We responded to questions about it from media and unfortunately they turned it into a warning from police.”

Montague said he wasn’t aware of any confirmed cases in Canada.

A case involving teens Sammy and Siobhan Clarke, who went missing in Britain in 2015, was also originally slated as a “Game of 72” case. But an Essex police officer said this wasn’t the case. “There is nothing to suggest any links or connections,” the officer told Braintree & Witham Times.  Sammy and Siobhan, 14 and 15, were missing for three days. A 22-year-old who was found with them was arrested. The girls had left to meet up with him and all three were later found at a bus stop.

Even the Original 2015 Case in France Was a Hoax

It seems like a lot of the rumors began with an alleged case in France involving a 13-year-old girl was missing for three days in 2015, Mic noted. The girl, whose name was Emma in media reports, was missing for three days and later found safe at her home. She wouldn’t say where she was, but said she was taking part in a Facebook dare. But the local prosecutor later said that the game “seems to be an excuse,” Snopes noted, and BBC reported. Francois Perain said, “Actually we think that Emma joined up with someone when she ran away, and that was the main reason for her running away. Everything points to the fact that the game (which may be imaginary) is the explanation that Emma gave as the reason why she ran away, and to protect the person she met. That person is currently being looked for by the police.”

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