A school violence warning in response to a threat made on TikTok on December 17 was sent to parents across the country as schools addressed the vague claims.
The TikTok threat, which many believe is not credible, promised December 17 as a day of violence for school shootings and other dangerous activity, sending many school administrators into a panic. No specific schools were mentioned in the TikTok warning, and no violence was reported to have taken place because of the viral post.
In fear of potential danger, some schools nationwide closed their doors, though many decided to remain open and warn the parents. Other schools have announced increased police presence on school grounds, while some parents have elected to simply keep their children home for the day. Local police departments also took precautions in case of mass violence to calm terrified parents and students.
Today reported hearing notices and school violence warnings being sent to schools in Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Los Angeles. Elsewhere it was reported that N.J. parents received warnings from their districts, as well.
The FBI released a statement saying that they “take all threats seriously,” even if it is believed that the TikTok trend is not a credible call to violence.
“We regularly work with our law enforcement partners to determine the credibility of any threats,” the FBI wrote. “As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately. While we continue to monitor intelligence, we are not aware of any specific threats or known credible threats to schools.”
It is unknown where the TikTok trend originated, but the social media platform claims that it started somewhere else before coming to their app.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” the social media platform said.
“Local authorities, the FBI, and DHS have confirmed there’s no credible threat, so we’re working to remove alarmist warnings that violate our misinformation policy,” TikTok stated. “If we did find promotion of violence on our platform, we’d remove and report it to law enforcement.”
The platform also chastised media reports “based on rumors rather than facts,” and said that they were “deeply concerned that the proliferation of local media reports on an alleged trend that has not been found on the platform could end up inspiring real world harm.”
Though TikTok denies that the trend spread on its platform, reports from credible outlets have claimed that the messages were seen and distributed on TikTok, even if the anonymous threats were unfounded. Many media outlets, in response, have chosen not to share images or links to the school violence warning, in hopes that the potentially dangerous threats will cease proliferation.
“This is an illustration of how social media and other communication platforms play a role in spreading threat related narratives, which then can result in the need for escalated security measures in and around parts our critical infrastructure,” a federal law enforcement agent told CNN.
In the wake of the Michigan school shooting, the deadliest recorded incident of its kind in 2021, many students have been on edge attending schools again in a post-pandemic world, which parents allege is greatly affecting their mental health.
“She’s emotionally sensitive to this stuff,” Marci Peru, a Connecticut mother of two told TODAY about her 16-year-old daughter. “It wasn’t the fear that it would happen, but why put her through the chaos and confusion?”
“She has a constant headache, and she has stomach pains and cramps and is cranky and just on edge and she’s not sleeping as much and she’s out of a routine,” she explained. “Her mental health is absolutely suffering.”
Any parents with information about potential violence are advised to report it to the authorities immediately.