We received a community notification from the Wellesley Police Department regarding an unusual/suspicious incident that occurred at the Sprague School on September 13, 2017 in the morning:
A Sprague School student reported that he had seen an unidentified male with a beard in the bushes near the Oak Street side of the school on Wednesday morning before school. The student reported that the man offered the boy a cell phone and asked him to help him participate in the “Blue Whale” challenge. The student immediately left the scene and there was no further contact. The person was described as a white male possibly in his 20s, 5 feet 6 inches tall, with long brown curly hair that was in a ponytail. The male also had a beard but no mustache.
The Wellesley Police Department is working with the Wellesley Public Schools to investigate this incident. The Wellesley Police Department is sending this message so the entire community can be aware of the unusual circumstances. We have not had any other reports of this type of behavior. The incident is being actively investigated by the Wellesley Police Department.
Please remind your child to report anything that seems strange to a teacher/parent and to quickly get away from any strange situation. Please call 9-1-1 to report any suspicious incidents or people as well.
This isn’t the first time Wellesley officials have warned families about the “Blue Whale Challenge.” Back in July, Superintendent David Lussier sent out an email to families warning about the deeply creepy “game,” which has made the rounds on social media.
In the “Blue Whale Challenge,” participants are encouraged to carry out a list of fifty tasks that start out with cutting, move on to desensitizing oneself to heights by, say, going to a roof and standing on the edge, and culminating in suicide. Throughout the tasks, the administrator, known as the “whale”, who does not participate in the tasks, is said to require proof through pictures and other occasional check-ins. The term blue whale comes from the phenomenon of beached whales, which is likened to suicide.
Although some reports of the challenge have been uncovered as a hoax, one administrator arrested earlier this year by police who have taken it all very seriously is now in a Siberian jail. An unrepentant Philipp Budeikin, 21, was arrested by Russian police and claimed that his victims were nothing more than biological waste and that he was simply cleansing society. According to The Daily Mail, Budeikin was identified as the ringleader of the Challenge and “was imprisoned by a Siberian court in the country’s first conviction of a so-called administrator of macabre social media death groups preying on vulnerable teenagers.”
Ukraine, Portugal, Spain, Britain and France have also reported the existence of Blue Whale groups.
Superintendent Lussier in his July email said:
Dear Members of the Wellesley Community,
I want share information that school districts across the state have received about a dangerous social media app called, “The Blue Whale Challenge.” The Blue Whale
USA Today (May 25, 2017) reported on how it works – “Over the course of 50 days, an anonymous administrator assigns kids self-harm tasks. The challenges may start by asking kids to watch a scary movie and then grow increasingly dangerous to include acts like cutting. On the 50th day, the participant is supposed to commit suicide. The game can reach kids through social-media channels like Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube and texting.”
It’s very concerning because these apps are targeting a very vulnerable population. We would encourage parents to:
* ask your kids if there are ANY new games or popular challenges that they or their friends are hearing about or playing on social media or online
* search for hashtags like #BlueWhaleChallenge and/or photos of a blue whale on your kids’ social media accounts.
This message is not meant to alarm anyone, but rather to encourage parents to be proactive in protecting their children from potential negative influences on the internet.