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Local school districts respond to national TikTok trend alluding to threat to school safety

TikTok
Posted at 4:16 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 10:23:32-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - A number of local school districts have responded to a TikTok post that supposedly poses a threat to school safety.

The posts on the social media platform allude to a threat "for every school in the USA, even elementary," on Friday, December 17.

Local school officials say the post is part of a national trend on TikTok and didn't originate in our area. While they don't believe the threat to be credible, they are closely monitoring the situation and have been contact with local law enforcement.

They are also taking this as an opportunity to remind parents to to monitor their students' online activity and discuss with them the consequences of such actions.

Below are the responses from school districts across Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina:

Chesapeake Public Schools

We have become aware of a troubling post that has been shared widely this week on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, December 17.

The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our school district. We have heard reports from other districts that the same post is circulating in their schools. While we do not believe the threat to be credible, we are closely monitoring the situation and have been in contact with the Chesapeake Police Department regarding the post.

This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families, and staff. We ask

our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online.

If you or your child become aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else, please notify a school staff member or trusted adult right away.

Currituck County Schools

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in conjunction with the NC Center for Safer Schools has informed school districts across the state that warnings are circulating across TikTok regarding threats against schools nationwide tomorrow, December 17, 2021.

We are extremely thankful for the tremendous amount of reports about the social media posts from our community. Discussions at the state and local level indicate that these threats are not imminent threats. Again, there are no known specific threats to our schools in Currituck County.

We will still have additional law enforcement presence on our campuses tomorrow simply out of an abundance of caution.

While we may be busy celebrating the upcoming holidays, there are no breaks when it comes to ensuring the safety of our staff and students.
Currituck County Schools

Dare County Schools

We have been following news reports of Tik Tok threats in some districts across the country. However, we are not aware of any threats on DCS schools. Additionally, each of our schools has a full-time School Resource Officer that is present on campus throughout the entire school day. We take threats of all kind seriously, and we stay in constant communication with law enforcement to ensure that our schools remain safe.
Dare County Schools

Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools

We are aware of the national social media trend and have worked with local law enforcement to provide additional officers throughout our schools on Friday, December 17th. The additional presence of law enforcement is out of an abundance of caution. We are not aware of any threats or concerns related to ECPPS; however, we will remain vigilant. We shared a commucation with staff and families this evening.
Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools

Gloucester County Public Schools

Good Evening GCPS Family:

This is Dr. Clemons calling. I hope that you are doing well on this Thursday evening. I am calling to let you know that Gloucester County Public Schools has become aware of a troubling post that has been shared widely this week on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA” on Friday, December 17.

The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our school district. We have heard reports from other districts that the same post is circulating in their schools. While we do not believe the threat to be credible, we are closely monitoring the situation and taking it seriously.

Additionally, the district has been in contact with the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Department regarding the post. As a result, we will have an increased police presence in our buildings on tomorrow as an added precaution.

This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families, and staff. We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online.

If any student or parent/guardian becomes aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else, please notify us and/or our local law enforcement right away.

In closing and as always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure safe, secure, and positive learning environments for all of our students and staff. Stay safe, be blessed and have a great evening!
Gloucester County Public Schools

Hampton City Schools

Dear HCS Families,

This communication is to make you aware of a troubling post(s) that appears to be circulating widely this week throughout our nation on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, December 17.

Again, this communication is to make you aware of this national TikTok trend. This trend did not originate in our school division, nor have there been any social media threats to our schools. However, we have heard reports from several states that this threat has been circulating through their school districts, so we felt we needed to be proactive and address this trend.

As such, we ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity. We also ask that you remind your child about proper online behavior as well as discuss the severe consequences that would occur at the school level and with law enforcement if they choose to create or share posts that refer to school safety threats.

If you or your child become aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else, please notify a school staff member or trusted adult right away. You may also utilize our Hampton City Schools safe school alert hotline. This system allows you to quickly, easily, and anonymously report safety concerns via text or phone. The safe schools hotline number is 757-504-0921.

As always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment for our students.
Hampton City Schools

Hampton Police

The Hampton Police Division is aware of the national focus on TikTok and the insistence of a few irresponsible people on generating fear. Our officers are working with school officials to make sure that today is a safe and productive day.

All available evidence indicates that today’s supposed advocacy to ‘shoot up schools’ is the malicious work of a small number of social media users. Nevertheless, our rule is that a person who threatens violence should be believed, and we will respond accordingly.

Let’s all continue to be vigilant in keeping our children and young adults safe from harm.

Chief Talbot

Williamsburg-James City County Schools

WJCC Schools is aware of a troubling post shared widely this week on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, Dec. 17.

The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our school division. While we do not believe the threat to be credible, we are closely monitoring the situation, and classes will continue as normal tomorrow, Dec. 17, 2021.

The City of Williamsburg and James City County Police departments are aware of this situation and are collaborating with school staff. You may see increased law enforcement visibility in the vicinity of our schools on Friday.

This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid reposting or sharing social media content that refers to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, reposting and sharing threats cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families and staff.

We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about appropriate behavior online. Please take time tonight and over Winter Break to discuss behavior expectations, both online and in schools, as well as the consequences for inappropriate behavior. The WJCC Student Code of Conduct is available on the division website and serves as a valuable resource for that conversation.

If you or your child become aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else, please notify a school staff member. As we say in WJCC Schools, “See something, say something” to a trusted adult at school or at home.

As always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment for our students.

Norfolk Police Department

Norfolk Public Schools has not yet made a statement regarding the trend, but the Norfolk Police Department did say Thursday night it has been made aware of a post "threatening violence against a school with the letters 'GHS.'" Police say the post has been investigated by several law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and has been deemed not credible.

Norfolk Police say there will be a heightened police presence in and around local schools Friday out of an abundance of caution.

Portsmouth Public Schools

Yes, we are aware there is a TikTok challenge that is encouraging students to make threats or otherwise disrupt school tomorrow. School administrators and school resource officers have also been made aware, and any student who participates in such a challenge will face school discipline as well as potential criminal charges.

However, that said, it is important to note that there have been no threats reported against any of our schools for tomorrow.
Portsmouth Public Schools

Southampton County Public Schools

As always, the safety of our students, teachers, school, and community is paramount. Therefore, if a parent feels compelled to keep their children home tomorrow, we ask that you notify your children's school and make the best decision for you and your family. We will be flexible with parents and students while addressing this matter. Furthermore, we will remain vigilant in doing all within our power to keep students and staff out of harm's way. Our belief remains, "See Something, Say Something." Thanks for the cooperation of you and your child during this matter.

Dear Students, Staff, Parents, and Community Members: This evening, I was made aware of concerns and warnings about a perceived threat on TikTok that appears to be circulating throughout the nation. Although the perceived threat did not appear to originate in our locality, it has been discussed within our schools and community. While the perceived threat does not name a particular school, the TikTok post stated that the threat is "for every school in the USA, even elementary," on Friday, December 17th.

We request that parents talk with their children about the appropriate use of social media and monitor their children's social media accounts. Further, we ask parents to speak with their children about the consequences of participating in or circulating threatening or perceived threatening social media posts. Lastly, we ask parents to assist us in emphasizing and reiterating to their children the seriousness of making or spreading threats.

No one is accusing any of our students of being associated with this perceived threat, nevertheless, we want to be proactive regarding social media use and threats or perceived threats in any format. Parents, please ensure that your children know that making or disseminating threats is no laughing or joking matter. If a child makes or disseminates a threat, consequences from the school and possibly law enforcement will follow such actions.

Our local Southampton County Sheriff's Office is aware of the perceived threat and conversations about the perceived threat on TikTok. Thus far, the perceived threats have been deemed unfounded, non-credible, and unsubstantiated. Since the perceived threat was not specifically made toward our schools, at this juncture, the schools will be open tomorrow. Moreover, we will have increased police presence in our schools, tomorrow, for added safety and security.
Dr. Gwendolyn P. Shannon, division superintendent Dr. Deborah Goodwyn, chair James D. Pope, III, vice-chair

Suffolk Public Schools

Dear SPS Family:

Suffolk Public Schools has become aware of a troubling post that has been shared widely this week on Tik Tok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, December 17. The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our school district. We have heard reports from other districts that the same post is circulating in their schools. While we do not believe the threat to be credible, we are closely monitoring the situation and taking it seriously.

Additionally, the district has contacted the Suffolk Police Department regarding the post. We will have an increased police presence in the main thoroughfares of our schools tomorrow morning. This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families, and staff.

We ask that our families monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online. If you or your child become aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else, please notify a school staff member or trusted adult right away. As always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment for our students.
Dr. John B. Gordon, III, SPS superintendent

York County School Division

The York County School Division and the York-Poquoson Sheriff's Office (YPSO) are aware of information circulating on the social media platform Tik Tok. These posts refer to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA” on Friday, December 17. We do not have any threats specific to YCSD schools, but are monitoring this national situation closely.

I want to assure you YCSD and YPSO will take appropriate action for any posts or comments that threaten YCSD schools, students and staff. The division has extensive safety and security procedures in place in all our schools on a daily basis and you may notice an increased presence from YPSO on and around our campuses tomorrow. Additionally, staff members will be available to speak with students throughout the day if needed. These measures will be in place to reaffirm to our students, staff, families and community that safety is our top priority.

Social media is a powerful – and sometimes dangerous – tool. Earlier this year, multiple YCSD schools experienced incidents of vandalism in bathrooms and classrooms due to Tik Tok challenges. Another challenge encourage students to slap teachers. These incidents, and other student disciplinary incidents, are disruptive to our classrooms and interfere with teaching and learning.

The division is collaborating with YPSO to plan a community conversation in January to discuss how we can work together as a community to address these serious issues. We will share additional information about that event after the break.

In the meantime, please take time tonight - and over Winter Break - to have family discussions about appropriate student behavior, both online and in schools, as well as the consequences for inappropriate behavior. The YCSD Student Handbook and Conduct Code is available on the division website and can serve as a valuable resource for that conversation.

Finally, I want to thank the students and families who have reported recent incidents and ask our students, staff, families and community members who become aware of any potential threat to notify a school staff member, a trusted adult, and law enforcement right away. We will continue to investigate every report received.

As always, thank you for your partnership to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment for our students.
Victor D. Shandor, Ed.D., YCSD superintendent

Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Good evening, VBCPS families,

The division has become aware of a troubling post that has been shared widely this week on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, Dec. 17.

The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our schools. While we do not believe the threat to be substantiated, we are taking it seriously.

Additionally, the division has been in contact with the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) regarding this situation.

This serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even jokes can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families and staff. We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and to take the opportunity to speak with them about being responsible citizens online.

If you or your child become aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else, please notify your child’s school or VBPD right away.

As always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure a safe, secure and positive learning environment for our students. We appreciate your support of VB Schools.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools

This comes as a number of school districts in our area have reported threats against safety, and just days after a 17-year-old student died in a shooting after a basketball game at Menchville High School in Newport News.

We will continue to update this story as more local school districts issue more statements on the trend.

Stay with News 3 for updates.