PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Several school districts throughout western Pennsylvania have been alerting parents about a social media challenge.
The letters have referenced TikTok threats that encourage shootings and bomb threats to happen Friday. Many school leaders don’t believe the possibility of threats to be credible but they’re still taking them seriously.READ MORE: Pittsburgh-Area Schools Increasing Security Over TikTok Challenge Threatening Violence
Parents can expect to see increased security measures at schools throughout the area.
Keystone Oaks, Gateway and Seneca Valley will learn remotely today and many others, like Shaler Area School District, will see those increased security measures. That also includes Pittsburgh Public Schools, which will operate on a modified lockdown.
Districts everywhere are asking parents to speak to their kids about how they utilize social medial.
Meanwhile, parents say the TikTok challenge is never-racking to think about.
“Of course it’s concerning, I think with this school, in particular, I think they do a great job alleviating any of those kinds of concerns, really just kind of letting the parents know what’s going on and things like that,” said Frank Moore, a parent in the Mount Lebanon School District.
Students KDKA talked to said they were scared when they heard of the possibility, and their classes were half the sizes that they normally are as parents kept their kids from coming to school.
“I just can’t believe this is happening, I think it’s just mental health,” Alyssa Rupp a senior at Penn-Trafford High School said.READ MORE: Threat Made On TikTok Causes Seneca Valley School District To Move To Remote Learning
“It just makes no sense to me why someone would want to make a threat like that. To me, it’s just really scary and I don’t know why someone would do that,” Haley Newell another senior at Penn-Trafford High School said.
In Norwin, a school bus driver, Kim Doyle, said she believes people are making bad jokes that seriously affect a student’s wellbeing.
“Just today’s society, there’s no consequences for anything. It’s a way for these people to get attention and get their thrills and so why not broadcast it and scare everybody else and then they’re sitting back going ‘ha ha ha,'” Doyle said.
TikTok says that they’re aware of the threats and are working with law enforcement but they haven’t found any evidence that the threat originated from TikTok itself.
In a statement, the FBI said, “The FBI takes all potential threats seriously. We regularly work with our law enforcement partners to determine the credibility of any threats. As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately.”
State police encourage everyone to remain vigilant and report all suspicious behavior.
Threats and suspicious behavior involving schools should be reported to the Safe2Say at (844)-723-2729 or here.
Meanwhile, a group called UpStreet focuses on mental health and says the stress of not only the pandemic but feeling unsafe in schools can take a toll on students.
“Some of the external things that you might see are things like not being able to focus or you’re talking to them, and they seem like they’re somewhere else,” Erin Barr, an UpStreet Clinical Coordinator, said. “They might seem extra fidgety. Because if kids don’t feel supported or don’t feel they have someone safe to talk to then sometimes that can make it worse.”