Schools step up security in response to threats on TikTok

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BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho (AP) – Educators announced plans to step up security in response to TikTok messages warning of gunfire and bomb threats to schools across the country on Friday, as officials assured parents that viral messages were not considered credible.

Messages circulating online warned that several schools would receive bombings and threats.

Bonneville School District Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme said the threats did not target any specific school but could affect schools across the country, including schools in District 93. He said the Sheriff’s Office of Bonneville County was aware of the social media challenge and that there had been no threats directed against specific schools in the district as a result of this challenge.

The threats got many educators on edge, as they circulated in the wake of a deadly Michigan school shooting, which was followed by imitation threats against schools across the country.

TikTok said it was working with law enforcement to investigate.

The posts follow a disturbing trend that has prompted students to respond in response to social media challenges.

Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme sent the following letter on Thursday.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Dear D93 families,

We recently learned of a TikTok challenge that allegedly encouraged students to make threats of shootings, bomb threats and violence against schools on Friday, December 17th.

These threats do not target any specific school, but can affect schools across the country, including schools in District 93. The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the challenge of social media, and we are working with our officers. school resources to assess and respond to this situation. There have been no threats directed at specific schools in our district as a result of this challenge.

Our intention is to be transparent in sharing important information with you, especially when it comes to school safety and security. While we understand that this event is just a rumor, we also know that social media can have a significant influence on students.

As families, we encourage you to talk with your children about the pressures of social media and the potential consequences of this type of behavior. Your guidance is essential to ensuring that your student is safe, kind, and responsible online, especially outside of school hours when they are most likely to be on social media. It is also a good time to stress the importance of immediately sharing information relating to the safety of our schools with a principal or other trusted adult. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which mainly show you content from people you know or follow, Tik Tok has a feed that prioritizes highly engaging content, which includes people you don’t know. This is why posts like the Tik-Tok challenges are going particularly viral.

We take threats, including those on social media, seriously. Making threats is a violation of our Code of Student Conduct and students who engage in this behavior will be subject to disciplinary action, as well as possible intervention by law enforcement.

If you learn anything of concern on social media or elsewhere, please contact your school principal to raise your concerns immediately.

While we know these challenges exist, we also know that the vast majority of our students are doing the right thing every day. We are proud of the D93 students and grateful that they value their school community and their culture.

If the TikTok Challenge had a direct impact on any of our D93 schools, we will take this threat seriously and work with the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office to keep our students and staff safe. Families will be notified if we determine that there is a credible threat in any of our schools.

If you or your student has any concerns about safety, these should be shared immediately with any principal, advisor or school resource manager at D93. Information can also be shared through our help site: www.d93.org/GetHelp or by texting @gethelp at 1-855-528-0074.

Thank you again for your support and help and for entrusting us with custody of your children. Have a safe and enjoyable Christmas vacation with your families.

Truly,

Scott Woolstenhulme,
Superintendent


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