What is the TikTok Stay at Home Challenge — what schools and law enforcement has to say about the December 17th threats on social media.
Another day. Another TikTok challenge.
It seems like every week there is a new “challenge” going around on social media that encourages kids and teens to do something stupid.
A couple months ago it was the “Devious Licks” challenge. A viral TikTok video showed a soap dispenser after it was ripped out of a school bathroom. As a result, students across the country tried to copy or even one-up the initial poster. The “pranks” (which were actually vandalism) got more and more ridiculous.
As a result, schools began lock bathrooms and restrict access to prevent further damage. This even made it to our school in a small town in Texas!
Now the stakes are even higher.
The “Stay at Home” TikTok Challenge
Earlier today a friend messaged me to ask if I’d heard about the latest TikTok trend. Apparently for the past couple weeks, there have been videos posted on TikTok warning about bad things planned for December 17th. Some even called it “National Sh00t Up Your School Day.” I don’t even like typing that out!
What does it mean?
Well, pretty much as the name suggests, the social media videos and posts warn that there will be violence in multiple schools on Friday, December 17th.
My friend showed me a letter that had been sent out to parents in her school district in New York state, informing them of the videos. The district said that there was no evidence of any credible threats, but that law enforcement presence would be heightened out of an abundance of caution.
Similar letters have gone out at districts around the country. Some just today, others as far back as last week.
What Does Law Enforcement Say About it?
Local news stations have also reported on this issue. Law enforcement sources in general seem to be trying to reassure parents that the threats are likely not credible and that no specific schools have been mentioned by name.
Fox 7 in Austin reports that Baltimore law enforcement agencies investigated the threat “and determined that it originated in Arizona and is not credible.” Regardless, many police departments are stepping up their presence in and around schools this week.
Parents have sent me letters from their own districts which explain police presence and security plans. (For privacy I am not publishing any of these letters I’ve read). Everyone seems to be on high alert.
Whether or not this is a hoax (which it likely and hopefully is), it is still terrifying as a parent to think that this is even something being discussed.
Though it IS good to see that both schools and law enforcement are taking it seriously, even if it might be a hoax.
Are the Videos Real?
I decided to check TikTok for myself, and it only took about 10 seconds to find dozens of videos warning kids to stay home on December 17th.
The videos I saw did not have any specifics mentioned. And most, if not all, of these videos are probably people trying to get views and attention by jumping on a viral trend.
I don’t know if there are videos out there that I didn’t see or hashtags that I didn’t know to look for. But all I can say is that TikTok is definitely buzzing about it.
So what can we do as parents?
The most important thing is to TALK to our kids. Not just on days like today, but everyday. Know who they talk to, who their friends are, what is going on at school.
If they have social media (my kids don’t yet), then keep an eye on it. Check it often. Know their passwords.
Let your kids know to be aware of their surroundings. If they see or hear anything weird, to tell a trusted adult.
Oh, and of course…let your kids know that participating in any of this is BAD. That social media seems like fun and games, but there will be REAL consequences for anyone who is caught behind this.
Some parents are choosing to keep their kids home from school tomorrow, and I can’t blame them. It’s a scary thought. I don’t know the right answer. I suppose the right answer is to do what you think is safest for your kids. This likely won’t be the last time something like this happens.
The world our kids inhabit is so different than when we grew up.
So take this as a reminder to be present in your kids lives. Be involved. Be proactive. They need us more than ever.
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