Local schools working with law enforcement to address threatening TikTok challenge

Law enforcement agencies across the country agree that these threats are not likely credible, but many are working directly with schools to increase security patrols out of an abundance of caution.
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 7:38 PM EST
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UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Schools in the WBTV viewing area are working with police to address a potential TikTok challenge designed to encourage students to make violent threats against schools on Friday.

School districts across the country are advising parents about the challenge.

Law enforcement agencies across the country agree that these threats are not likely credible, but many are working directly with schools to increase security patrols out of an abundance of caution.

In Union County, the school district sent a message to parents, saying senior leaders and school administrators are aware of the disturbing challenge.

School officials say they are working with the Union County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies to monitor this challenge and social media posts.

At this time, officials say they are not aware of any threats directed towards Union County Public Schools.

“Please talk to your students, monitor their social media pages and help them to understand that posting or reposting threats and other false information can lead to serious consequences. In addition, please remind students that weapons are not allowed on campus. Students who violate the Student Code of Conduct will receive the appropriate consequences and, in some cases, charges from law enforcement could be pursued. If students are aware of a threat or information about potential school violence, they are encouraged to use the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System or the UCPS Tip Line. Thank you for your partnership. Let’s work together to keep our schools safe,” the school district wrote in the email.

The Lancaster School District communicated a similar message to parents.

WBTV has reached out to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to see if they are aware and what precautions they may be taking.

Earlier Thursday, CMS provided a statement about safety in schools and a message about threats of violence.

“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is among many school districts throughout the nation that are seeing a sharp increase in the volume of social media threats directed toward schools. CMS and local law enforcement agencies take every threat seriously. Law enforcement investigates all threats, conducting threat assessments, interviewing families and enforcing consequences. Even threats deemed not credible are violations of the CMS Code of Student Conduct and suspensions or other serious consequences may result. In many cases, any threat, credible or not, also results in criminal charges. Almost all threats turn out to be unfounded, with students admitting they didn’t intend to harm anyone or saying they were just joking. The safety of students and staff is nothing to joke about. CMS will continue to report all threats to law enforcement for investigation. Credible threats will immediately lead to notification to families, students, school officials and staff. Threats – credible or not, often perpetuate the spread of other threats that disrupt learning and cancel events. We encourage families to talk to students about the seriousness of making false threats or sharing them on social media. We also ask families to monitor students’ online and social media behavior. Our schools can provide resources or guidance to families. We appreciate those who come forward to make us aware of threats. If you or your child has credible information about a possible safety threat, please let a school official know. You can also call Charlotte-Mecklenburg CrimeStoppers at 704-344-1600 or submit an anonymous tip online at Safety is our top priority, and we will continue to create a safe environment for all students and staff.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said the department continues to assess the situation, work with school resource officers and allocate their resources as necessary to facilitate a safe learning environment for students in Mecklenburg County.

“We encourage any student or parent who has information about a crime or suspicious activity to call 911, or use Crime Stoppers or Campus Crime Stoppers program to provide that information anonymously,” CMPD said.

In a sentiment almost certainly shared by school administrators across the U.S., district administrators urge families to report any concerns they have about threats against schools.

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