Parents concerned over new social media challenge targeting schools

Heather Jauquet

MCPS Parents looking for communication and reassurance from schools while debating to keep kids home from school

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There’s no doubt that the last few months of the school year have been stressful for staff, students, and parents. As everyone adjusts to the normal of learning during a health crisis, schools are facing addition to staffing issues across the nation. Now to add to the tension is the new social media challenges targeting schools.  

In September, schools faced the consequences of TikTok’s Devious Licks Challenge to vandalize school bathrooms. Bathrooms closed across Montgomery County as students walked out with soap dispensers, toilet lids, or stall doors.

Now coming on the heels of the latest tragedy in Michigan, a new TikTok Challenge is encouraging students across the nation to make threats of violence against schools on Friday, December 17, 2021. The social media threats mention the use of weapons. The original challenge that initially called for students to skip school has evolved into something sinister.

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and Montgomery County Police (MCPD) have been made aware of a number of viral online threats being made toward schools locally, in Maryland and in other parts of the country. The social media threats are similar in style and content and mention either a school shooting or bomb threat that is meant occur on Friday, December 17. There is no indication that these messages have any credibility; however, MCPS and MCPD will continue to monitor social media and will actively investigate any specific threat in our community. The community is encouraged not to share these messages online but to report any such threats to local law enforcement. —Montgomery County Public Schools homepage

However, MCPS shared that the messages have no credibility while acknowledging they are aware of the challenge on their web page. MCPS is working with Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) to monitor social media and actively investigate specific threats to local schools. 

However, parents are concerned as only a handful of MCPS schools have communicated the threat to their communities. Through the network of parent communication, message boards are becoming increasingly frantic as parents debate whether or not to send their children to school on Friday. Parents are sharing that their kids have known since last week, but today is the first parents are hearing of the challenge.  

Before this challenge, one MCPS high school received two bomb threats and experienced a shelter in place last week. It has been difficult for teachers to care for their students’ mental and emotional well-being and address their educational needs while they are in a heightened state of anxiety. The stress is taking its on toll on students and teachers alike. One teacher commented, “We’re not okay.”  

What are your thoughts on the latest challenge? Are you concerned? Let me know in the comments.

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.

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