Kinross officer fears Facebook missing youth craze could be gaining popularity in Scotland

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Police involved in a search for a teenager have warned children may be going missing as a result of a sinister new Facebook craze reaching Scotland.

The craze involves a child being ‘nominated’ by another Facebook user to disappear for up to 48 hours while having no contact with anyone else.

Kinross-based PC Atholl Spalding issued a warning to parents after he was involved in the ultimately successful search for a missing teenager on Thursday.

While there was no suggestion she had engaged in the online challenge, Mr Spalding warned parents of its spread.

He said: “Seeing and hearing that there may be a new craze sweeping Facebook, where you nominate a friend to stay missing for up to 48 hrs – hence police involvement.

“Hope this isn’t true. The resources into vulnerable missing persons are stretching the police to our limit.”

He said: “Kids are nominating each other to stay missing and stay off social media until found. This needs the word spread, so parents are aware. Shocking if true and draining police resources for a game of hide and seek.”

The officer later tweeted: “Spent ten hours looking for vulnerable missing person last night. Glad to hear the young person has been found safe and well. #Phonehome #parentsatwitsend #thinkonplease #familymatters.”

The 48-Hour Challenge is a worrying viral trend circulating on Facebook and based on a similar challenge which swept Europe several years ago.

It encourages children to go missing from home for up to two days, sparking police searches and making their parents frantic with worry.

Extra points are awarded for every mention on social media, so desperate appeals to find them from friends and relatives on Facebook and Twitter are welcomed.

In the UK, the “game” initially surfaced among schoolchildren in Northern Ireland before spreading to the south of England and, seemingly, north of the border.