Resources from the School Social Worker

March 12, 2019

Resources from the School Social Worker:

Below you will find some resources/announcements that have been given to you by our school social Worker, Angie Huber. If you have questions, please call her. Her number is (703) 988-8222. Thank you.

Communication to Parents Regarding the Momo Challenge and Digital Citizenship Resources

It has come to our attention that a “game” called the Momo Challenge has begun appearing on social media, primarily through WhatsApp. Although believed to be a viral hoax, the game targets primarily elementary aged children, and engages the “players” in a series of increasingly dangerous tasks, including self-harming acts. A message to alert parents (below) has been created for your reference and/or use in upcoming newsletters or other communication you will have with parents.

In Fairfax County schools, county agencies and families are working together to create an environment where children and youth can safely learn, work, and play. Similar to our message containing information about the 13 Reasons Why NETFLIX program and the Blue Whale Challenge, we are sending this communication to alert you to a recent rise in new games and social media challenges that encourage young people to participate in harmful behavior.

One example of this is a potentially harmful game called the “Momo Challenge" that has reportedly been posted on different social media platforms to include WhatsApp and assigns players a series of progressively more intense tasks, to include self-harm. It is important to note that the Momo Challenge is a hoax that has received a significant amount of media attention.

This hoax has been seen across the United States in recent months, targeting primarily elementary aged children. Vigilant parents and guardians in Fairfax County have also reported seeing information about the Momo Challenge or similar games on their children's phones and have alerted school authorities.

Please talk to your child about this type of internet hoax, and check his or her phone or other device for signs of an app or communications with anyone telling them to do specific tasks. This provides an excellent opportunity to remind your child of best practices for internet safety and digital citizenship:

  • Remind your child information shared on social media is not always true and how quickly misinformation can create a panic online.
  • Children should never engage in conversations with strangers online.
  • Be aware of the sites and apps your children are using and know their usernames and passwords.
  • Turn off suggested autoplay on videos to stop children from viewing content they have not selected, and you have not approved.
  • If appropriate, tell your children that Momo is not real and will not hurt them.
  • Encourage open dialogue with them around any concerns.

FCPS has additional resources available on this website: https://www.fcps.edu/node/32086. If you have concerns about your child, please contact your school counselor. Please be aware that a number of mental health resources are available, including Fairfax County Public School resources: School Counseling Services at 571-423- 4420, School Psychology Services at 571-423-4250, and School Social Work Services at 571-423-4300 and Fairfax County resources: Crisis Link Hotline at 703-527-4077, Merrifield Emergency Services 703-573-5679 (available 24/7) or Entry and Referral during business hours at 703-383-8500. The Fairfax County Police Department non-emergency number is 703-691-2131.

More information about the Momo Challenge and other internet challenges or hoaxes is available at these links: 

JDRC Parent Support Group

A walk-in group with no registration necessary, for parents and custodians of adolescents (court involved or not) seeking help finding information, gaining insight or regaining control of their child.  Please click here to see flyer.

Video: What Parents Need to Know About E-Cigarettes

In this video from Fairfax County Government, tobacco control coordinator Shannon Raines discusses e-cigarettes with Brian Maslowski, a tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs seminar instructor from Fairfax County Public Schools. They cover how e-cigarettes work; how they are different from cigarettes; and why they are harmful, especially to youth. Watch the video

Resources for Federal Employees:

CAFB Government Shutdown Pop Up Market Flyer

SNAP Information

Resources for County Residents Impacted by Federal Shutdown

Stress Relief Strategies 

Click here to see suggestions to help relive stress in 10 minutes or less. 

Upcoming Events:

Office of the Family and Student Ombudsman brochure

Girls’ Group

When: Thursdays 5:00pm-6:00pm (ongoing)

Leader: Jean Mcguire-Robb, MEd, LCSW

Who: Girls ages 13-18 yo (maximum census: 8)

Purpose: Process group to discuss topics that include emotional issues, self-esteem, social skills, interpersonal skills, coping skills, parent conflict, management of impulsive thoughts and behaviors, self-injury, school resistance and stress management

Location: Jean’s office/art room

Accepts Insurance: Yes

Next Start time: ongoing going enrollment

Children’s Group

When: Thursdays, 4:30-5:20 pm

Leader: Elizabeth Hinkle, LMFT

Who: Children, ages 6-8, who have challenges with emotion regulation, social/relationship skills, impulse control, and managing self/behaviors.

Purpose: Skills/process/activities to address self-control, emotion regulation, provide social support, and managing selves/behaviors.

Location: Art Room

Accepts Insurance: Yes except Cigna

Next Start time: Ongoing enrollment, depending on availability

For more information, contact intake coordinator at 703-218-8500

Portrait of a Graduate

A goal in FCPS is to support instill the Portrait of a Graduate.  Families are encouraged to review how these skills are being taught and how they can support this goal.  See the link for more information.

https://www.fcps.edu/about-fcps/portrait-graduate/resources

E-Cigarettes, Vaping and Juuling Information

Information for parents regarding the health risks associated with vaping are addressed in the following link. 

https://www.fcps.edu/resources/student-safety-and-wellness/alcohol-tobacco-and-other-drug-programs/information

Crisis Resources

We know that some of the school communities are looking for information to help support conversations or discussions regarding the recent violence in Texas.  In response to this violence, students and school communities may be experiencing a wide variety of feelings. Organizations such as School Social Work Association of America (SWWAA), American School Counselor Association (ASCA), the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), and The National Child Stress Network have compiled online resources to help school staff members provide ongoing support to students and families. Below are some of these resources that you may find helpful in talking to your child.  Please let Angie Huber, School Social Worker, know if there is anything we can do to support you.