ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WJW / NEXSTAR) – Local school districts and law enforcement are on high alert amid a nationwide TikTok trend threatening violence against schools.
In a letter sent to parents in the Rocky River City School District, school officials are warning about a post on TikTok encouraging students make threats of shootings, bomb threats and violence against schools on Friday.
The district said they’re working with Rocky River Police to make sure there’s an increased police presence Friday. They also urged parents to advise their children against taking part in this trend.
Similarly, Amherst Police Department and Avon Lake Police Department posted on Facebook that they were made aware of the trend and will take necessary precautions.
St. Peter School in Lorain was closed Friday due to the threat.
Lorain County Sheriff’s Office said they will monitor the situation. It said on social media:
“We will criminally charge anyone that will attempt to incite or induce panic and disrupt our school’s daily activities. Fake threats , REAL CONSEQUENCES!!!!”
Other schools that issued statements include the following:
Authorities and school administrators in several states say they have been made aware of the social media challenge.
According to statements from schools and police departments in multiple states across the country, the posts to TikTok and other social media platforms have not originated in their communities and do not refer to specific schools but are instead part of a nationwide trend.
TikTok released a statement Thursday which reads, “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.”
Several districts and law enforcement agencies are encouraging parents to talk to their children about the threats. It can be a difficult conversation, but the American Psychological Association offers a few tips on how to go about it.
First, they suggest leading with listening. You may want to start out by asking your child what they’ve heard about what’s going on at school. You should answer your children’s questions honestly, suggests the APA, while making sure they know they are safe.
“Parents should acknowledge to children that bad things do happen, but also reassure them with the information that many people are working to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers and local police,” says the APA.
If your child has any information on a threat, be sure to share that information with law enforcement. In many cases, that can be done anonymously.
Finally, the APA tells parents to keep an eye out for warning signs their kids may need additional help.
“Such indicators could be a change in the child’s school performance, changes in relationships with peers and teachers, excessive worry, school refusal, sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches or stomachaches, or loss of interest in activities that the child used to enjoy.”
Making false threats of terrorism is a crime that can carry long prison sentences in many states. Parents may want to emphasize the consequences of spreading such rumors with their children.