CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Channel 9 discovered a new and shocking social media game that encourages teenagers to run away and disappear from their parents for at least 48 hours.
It’s called the 48-hour challenge.
“It’s just a terrible strain, emotionally, physically on these families,” said Lee Tuttle, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s missing persons investigator.
The strain Tuttle is talking about is what families go through when a person disappears.
The challenge which is on Facebook encourages teens to disappear for 48 hours without telling family or friends.
Children get points the longer they’re able to vanish, and they get even more points if there are posts on social media or reports on the news about their disappearance.
“We were talking about it amongst our unit and we all cringed as soon as we heard something like that,” Tuttle said.
Channel 9 told parents about the game in Freedom Park and got the same reaction.
“It sounds terrifying. It sounds really cruel,” parent Amy Marsh said.
Statistics released by the missing persons unit underline why police should be concerned. Investigators look at around 2,500 missing person cases per year. Around half of the victims are 13-15 years old.
“Kids at that age are a little defiant, a little mad and just wanting to push the rules,” said Jennifer Boyd, a counselor.
Officers said so far the game has not been played in Charlotte, but they want parents to talk to their kids and explain it isn’t a joke.
“It makes us all cringe because of the potential for resources to be pulled away from where they need to be,” Tuttle said.
According to the state’s center for missing persons, it receives more than 10,000 missing person reports every year.
Reports range from parent abductions to missing adults with cognitive issues.