Editorial: Disappearing not a game

Last week the Comox Valley RCMP published two separate press releases concerning missing teenage girls in the Comox Valley.

The files were posted on May 25.

Fortunately, both teens were reported safe and sound, three days later. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that there has been a spike in similar such “disappearances” in society of late.

It surrounds a new “game” teens are playing, called the Game of 72.

We aren’t suggesting that the two Comox Valley girls were playing this new game; we are only bringing to light the newest online fad.

The game, which allegedly began on Facebook, challenges teens to vanish for three days.

Now, three days off the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is actually a healthy concept, for any of us. But this is more than that. This game calls for players to completely vanish, without a trace. Skip school, don’t come home. Don’t advise your parents, friends, or anyone else where you are. It is, essentially, hide and seek, only 72 hours long – and that’s extremely dangerous, for many reasons.

First and foremost, the child’s safety comes into play. Disappearing for 72 hours entails one of two things – either complete seclusion, or a change of environment. A change of environment means a departure from all things familiar, and in that regard, there are far too many people in this world waiting to prey on children who find themselves in unfamiliar territory.

Apparently that’s part of the thrill of the “game”, but the bigger thrill is the mayhem caused by the so-called disappearance. The more panic caused by the disappearance, the more points gained.

Missing persons report? Points scored.

Local media reporting on it? Points scored.

Public plea by parents on TV or internet? Points scored.

Gone are the days of kids playing Knock, Knock Ginger (a.k.a. Nicky, Nicky Nine Doors), hopscotch, or raiding gardens for kicks.

Now it’s only real fun if others are hurt.

And don’t for a moment think this game is harmless. Any parent who has ever lost a child, even in a mall for 30 seconds, knows there’s no such thing as a harmless prank involving missing children.

We hope the two Comox Valley teens were not playing this game, because the more often something like this happens, the more desensitized society becomes. Then, when the time comes to broadcast a bona fide disappearance, it’s harder to get the point across.

Consider this a public service announcement for any parents who were unaware of this new “game”. Talk to your children about the repercussions they might not even realize; about the dangers surrounding the game, and the hurt they will invoke.

Then teach them hopscotch.

–TF

 

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