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Police warn parents about dangerous '48-hour challenge' that dares kids to run away

The latest viral "challenge" involves teens going missing for 48 hours to get likes and shares on social media. So far, though, it doesn't appear anyone's actually doing it.
/ Source: TODAY

Police across the country are warning parents about a dangerous social media dare called the "48-hour challenge" — but its not clear people are actually doing it.

The challenge involves teens running away from home for a 48-hour period and then getting "points" on social media in the form of likes and shares, according to police warnings.

Police warn parents about the "48 Hour Challenge"
Police departments across the country have issued warnings to parents about the "48-hour challenge" involving teens running away to get attention on social media. Getty Images

So far, there have not been widespread reports of kids going missing, according to statements by police in a handful of states this week. But some departments said they are trying to get the word out just in case.

The Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office in Indiana issued a warning on Facebook Monday about the challenge, noting that "runaway and missing person reports are very serious matters" that pull cops away from other duties.

But the department also noted that it had not had any reported instances of local teens vanishing for two days.

"We are trying to educate our community and get out in front of something before it happens," Tippecanoe Sheriff Bob Goldsmith said in a statement.

The Bradley County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee also warned parents after receiving reports of five juveniles running away last week. However, the sheriff's office did not find a link between their disappearances and the "48-hour challenge."

Four of the juveniles have been found, department spokesperson Adam Lewis told NBC affiliate WRCB.

"The single best thing parents can do to avoid a situation like this is to spend time with your teens and with your children," Lewis said. "Certainly, I think it's important in this day and age, for parents to be aware of who they're hanging out with and what they're being exposed to."

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Police in Horry County, South Carolina, also issued a warning, noting that the challenge could also divert important resources in the event of actual emergencies.

"If someone falsely leads others to believe they are missing, and a missing person investigation is launched, resources may ultimately be allocated to a fruitless search that may have been better utilized in other incidents,” department spokesperson Mikayla Moskov told NBC affiliate WMBF.

Reports about whether challenge is real or a hoax have been popping up for a few years, most recently in 2017. It even raised eyebrows in the U.K.

The fact-checking site Snopes did not find evidence in 2017 of any kids taking the "48-hour challenge."

The "48-hour challenge" is the latest "challenge" craze that has bubbled up from the internet. Earlier this year, Netflix put out a public plea to fans of the movie "Bird Box" to stop filming themselves participating in dangerous activities blindfolded, a reference to Sandra Bullock's character in the horror flick.