NJ schools step up security after viral TikTok threats

New Jersey

NEW JERSEY — School leaders and law enforcement officials around the region have increased security measures at schools following social media posts warning of shooting and bomb threats at schools.

School districts were taking steps to increase security, while multiple law enforcement agencies have said the viral posts and threats were not considered credible.

A nationwide challenge on the TikTok app, and a similar challenge on SnapChat, warns of the potential for school violence on Friday, Dec. 17.

Many of the posts related to the trend contain the hashtags #December17 or #december172021.

School officials in states including New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana and Pennsylvania said Thursday there would be an increased police presence because of the threats.

Authorities in New Jersey have alerted school districts to the social media challenge.

Parents, as well as students and staff, had also been notified ahead of Friday.

The trend comes on the heels of the ninth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the Michigan school shooting on Nov. 30 that left four students dead and several other people injured.

The Hoboken Police Department took to Twitter saying they were aware of the situation and have increased patrols to make the school community “as safe as possible.”

Gov. Murphy said the safety of our children is the highest priority and that he’s working with law enforcement to monitor the situation.

In a statement on Twitter, TikTok said it was working with law enforcement to investigate the trend and taking the rumored threats seriously.

School leaders encouraged parents to speak with their children about the problems surrounding the scary trend.

The posts remained under investigation Friday.

Anyone with any information about the posts were being asked to contact the police.

The posts follow a disturbing trend that has had students acting out in response to social media challenges. In September, students across the U.S. posted videos of themselves vandalizing school bathrooms and stealing soap dispensers as part of the “devious licks” challenge.

In October, students were challenged to slap a teacher, prompting the National Education Association to call on the leaders of Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to intervene.

Internet companies such as TikTok are generally exempt from liability under U.S. law for the material users post on their networks, thanks in large part to the legal “safe harbor” they are given by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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