A quasi-religious cult is using the Internet to recruit teenagers who are encouraged to act as werewolves, howl at the moon and eat raw meat.
Counsellors at the Cult Information Hotline have received several complaints about the group, which has more than 50 members throughout Queensland.
Counsellors and concerned parents said complaints had been made to police and government authorities about the activities of cult members in Housing Commission properties.
A Brisbane mother told last week how her 19-year-old son became involved with the group after meeting members over the Internet.
And Queensland Health social worker David Ward confirmed that he had tried to help the teenager.
“My concern is these kids believe they can turn into werewolves and start eating raw meat, which makes them sick,” Mr Ward said.
“The teenager I spoke to a couple of times, who is living with this group, is just your average adolescent.
“There’s a myth that says there must be something wrong with these children or they come from a broken home.
“This boy was going through normal adolescent stuff. They go through an identity crisis, where they wonder who they are, and they’re vulnerable.”
The teenager’s mother spoke to The Sunday Mail on the condition she not be identified because she feared her family could face threats from the cult.
“My son had been studying really hard at school, he was very quiet and I suggested he join a computer group,” she said.
The woman said her son stumbled on to a group that she later discovered was involved in lycanthropy, or the practice of werewolfism.
“A young man then kept ringing us, wanting my son to come out and within three weeks he was part of the group,” the mother, 50, said.
“This fellow started to stalk us at night. He’d start howling like a werewolf at midnight outside our house, which frightened the other kids.
“My son left and moved into a house with this fellow and another bloke. They would dress up in costumes like wolves and take my son on a leash to South Bank.”
The mother still maintains weekly telephone contact with her son, who has joined other cult members interstate. She said she had became concerned about his health after he joined the group several months ago.
“They drink blood and eat raw meat. My son lost a lot of weight,” she said.
Mr Ward said the teenager’s health had deteriorated at one stage but he appeared to have recovered, although he still refused to return home.
“The police can’t do anything about these groups. It’s not as if they’re breaking the law,” he said.
“This mother will have to wait until her son comes to his senses. It could take two months, or two decades, depending on the person.”