A threat began circulating on TikTok Thursday warning of school shootings, bomb threats, and other violence for Dec. 17. In response, many schools have issued statements on the matter and have increased police presence on Friday just in case. Parents across the U.S. were sent into a tailspin of panic and anxiety as the threat gained traction.
While no specific schools were mentioned in the viral threats, schools in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York and Pennsylvania have said classes on Friday would see an increase in police presence or would be canceled altogether due to the threats made on the social media platform, The Associated Press reports. Many school districts across the country have said they haven't found the threats to be credible, but are taking precautions nonetheless.
Bosque County Sheriff's Department in Texas released a statement on Facebook this morning responding to the threat:
"The safety of our children and school staff is priority 1. Please be vigilant and remember, if you see something, say something."
Brevard County School District in Florida is encouraging parents to explain the serious nature of these threats to their children.
"We are asking you to speak with your children about the serious nature of making a school threat," the statement reads. "They are NEVER a 'joke' and they will not be treated lightly under any circumstances. Any threat made will be investigated to the fullest extent and serious consequences will follow. Please help your children understand that some of these consequences carry life-long repercussions."
Police departments and school districts across the country have issued similar warnings and statements as they expend extra resources to ensure school safety on Friday.We are asking you to speak with your children about the serious nature of making a school threat. They are NEVER a “joke” and they will not be treated lightly under any circumstances. Any threat made will be investigated to the fullest extent and serious consequences will follow. Please help your children understand that some of these consequences carry life-long repercussions.
Parents all over the country are sharing their worries about what is being dubbed as "American School Shooting Day."
My sons school just called and warned parents that some kids created a “national school shooting day” and it’s been circulating social media across the country. They ended the message with “don’t panic”. Yea I won’t panic cause my baby is staying home tomorrow. Tf— M A R T Y (@mvrty___) December 16, 2021
Dr. Shannon Curry, a clinical and forensic psychologist and owner of Curry Psychology Group, says a threat doesn't have to be credible or carried out in order to cause substantial mental harm.
"Some research shows that the people who weren't physically present at a traumatic event—didn't witness it, weren't exposed to it—can have higher rates of traumatic stress or overall distress than victims who were present at the event," Curry tells TODAY.
She says parents can help their children through experiences like this by limiting their exposure to the news and social media—like TikTok.
"Whatever you can do to limit their exposure to these images and sensationalized news stories is going to be for the better," she explains. "And checking yourself to also make sure that you're not playing into it. If we model it for them, they absolutely pick up on our reactions and our fears."