Social Media Posts Threaten Schools in TikTok Challenge

 by Tom MarinoDecember 16, 2021

A TikTok challenge is pushing students to threaten gun violence within schools on Friday, December 17. Students in various parts of the country have taken the challenge.

The Charlton-Dudley Regional School District emailed parents early in the day on Thursday, December 16, saying it was aware of “a post from a person in a neighboring community referencing a threatening act involving DMS and CMS.” The letter also referenced the TikTok challenge. The email was signed by Superintendent Steven Lamarche.

Some parents responded by removing their children from school on Thursday.

Dudley Police Chief Steve Wojnar says the department has increased police presence in all Dudley schools.

The Charlton Police Department also issued a brief statement.

A letter also dated Thursday, December 16, was posted to the Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School District by Superintendent Paul Haughey.

Millbury Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Myers also emailed parents after receiving information about a threat earlier in the week. Myers said their investigation revealed that the threat was a rumor based on a social media post and had nothing to do with Millbury.

The Webster Police Department also released a statement.

After 6 PM on Thursday, Worcester Public Schools sent a message via the schools' messaging system. In that voice message, Superintendent Maureen Bineinda, said the following:

Good evening. This is superintendent Binienda.

Worcester public schools 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 United States even Elementary on Friday December 17th.

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 is credible, we are closely monitoring the situation and taking it seriously. Additionally the district has been in contact with the Worcester Police Department regarding the post.

This situation serves as an example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to cool 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 social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online. If you or your child become aware of any potential threat, hope to the social media or anywhere else, please notify School staff member or trusted adult right away.

Finally the last day of school before holiday break is Wednesday, December 22nd. December 22nd is a full day of school. All students and staff will be expected to return to school on Monday, January 3rd. All students should bring their Chromebook for iPad home during the break.

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

Shortly after 7 PM on Thursday, the Shrewsbury Police Department released a statement.

The Shrewsbury Police Department statement included a statement from Superintendent of Shrewsbury Public Schools, Joe Sawyer.

December 16, 2021

Dear Shrewsbury Families & Colleagues,

You may have seen news about a social media trend, mainly on TikTok, where there are general threats made about school violence tomorrow. These general threats have been posted across the U.S., and some apparent copycat posts have been made regarding specific school districts. Unfortunately, some of our students have seen posts on social media and have expressed concern about attending school tomorrow. Please note:

  • There have been no specific threats made regarding any Shrewsbury schools
  • We have been in communication with the Shrewsbury Police Department, including our School Resource Officers, and there will be a heightened level of situational awareness tomorrow per our protocols• Law enforcement has communicated that these posts are non-specific, seek to instill fear and anxiety, and are not credible
  • I am confident in the safety and security of our schools, and I ask that parents reassure their children if they are concerned. I am truly sorry that this social media issue has caused concern for some of our students, and I hope the information that authorities have identified this as a non-specific national social media trend that is not credible is helpful to you.

As always, if anyone becomes aware of information that may be concerning, please report it.

Respectfully,
Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools

Late in the evening on Thursday, the Northborough Police Department released a statement.

Shortly before noon on Friday, Spencer Police made a statement that has two threats specific to the Spencer/ East Brookfield School District, under investigation.

The full statement from the Spencer Police Department:

Two threats, specific to the Spencer/East Brookfield School District were received shortly after dismissal yesterday afternoon. These threats, possibly inspired by the recent viral postings on social media, involved two Knox Trail Students.

The first, a 13 year old male student from Spencer, had allegedly made threats to “Shoot up the School” to other students both verbally and through social media. Police confronted the family, the child was placed into custody for a “Mental Health” evaluation. A replica handgun was confiscated from a third party outside the home.

The second, a 12 year old male from Spencer, had allegedly shown another student a handgun that he had in his backpack while in school. Police confronted the family is this case as well. A pellet pistol was confiscated from the family.

The investigations in both cases are ongoing – no information about criminal charges is currently available. That said, Police are convinced that neither of these students has the means to carry - out a school shooting.

School districts and news reporting in various parts of the country have informed their communities about the TikTok challenge. Examples include the San Juan School District in Northern California and the Tooele County School District in Utah. The Citrus County Chronicle, west of Ocala, Florida and ABC New 7 WJLA in Maryland reported on the story in their local area.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Updated: 8:04 PM include Shrewsbury Police Department statement.

Updated at 9:51 PM to include Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Maureen Binienda's voice message broadcast.

Updated Friday December 17, 1:30 PM to include statement from the Northborough Police Department.

Updated Friday, December 17, 1:57 PM to include Spencer Police Department statement related to threats under investigation.

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