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Central Indiana school districts, parents respond to viral 'TikTok challenge' encouraging threats of violence toward schools on Friday

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Posted at 7:17 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 23:31:59-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Several central Indiana school districts sent out notifications to parents on Thursday alerting them that they were monitoring a viral 'TikTok challenge' currently circulating that encourages making threats of violence towards schools.

The challenge, which dubs Friday, December 17 as "National Shoot Up Your School Day," encourages students to make threats of violence against their school.

Multiple districts tell WRTV and families they are aware and are closely monitoring the situation, but they have not been made aware of any credible threats.

While WRTV does not generally report on vague or unsubstantiated threats, due to the widespread nature of the message that is being shared, we felt it necessary to tell our viewers what is being said and how local schools and police departments are handling the messages.

According to our sister station, WCPO, the challenge was the most-searched-for thing on Google in the United States as of Thursday afternoon, with results showing news stories from across the country.

WRTV has reached out to dozens of school districts across central Indiana and has received responses back from several, including Anderson, Carmel-Clay and Franklin schools. All of which say they have been in close contact with local police and have found no credible threats aimed at their districts at this time.

Many school districts have stated they will have increased police presence on Friday, out of an abundance of caution.

"Please take this opportunity to discuss with your children that inappropriate comments, posts or jokes about threats of violence on social media can have serious consequences," the note sent to Noblesville School parents said.

"Seeing news of shootings in other schools is terrifying and heartbreaking enough, but the thought that my son might be the next news headline is unfathomable," said Shaina Lancaster-Creech.

The mom pulled her son out of school a few days ahead of Christmas break in Bunker Hill.

"Oh, I am absolutely keeping him home just because I feel like you don't know if any of those kids were affected by the social media post," she said.

Multiple police departments have already shared messages with their communities as well, noting they have been alerted of the messages being shared and that they will assist their local school districts in whatever way needed.

The City of Fishers held a special meeting Thursday night addressing the threat and assuring parents schools are safe.

"We have means to detect, detour and respond. All those entities are already present and I think there is a sense we aren't a safe campus. SROs are contacted immediately, we start to investigate immediately," said the school district.

Gun expert and lawyer Guy Relford says he understands parents' concerns but also encourages parents not to panic.

"The parent needs to weigh the possibility for instance of keeping the child home for the day. You don't want to react with too much alarm or panic. I also think it is appropriate for the parent to ask the school system how much additional police presence is going to be there, what are the screen procedures going to be, how do we make sure illegal weapons don't make their way into the school or on school grounds, and the school should answer," said Relford.

Below are some of the specific responses WRTV has received from school districts across central Indiana.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools says it did not send out anything to parents Thursday and that patrols will be normal on Friday.

The district released the following statement last week after two 13-year-olds were arrested in connection to threats made against Riverside Junior High School.

All threats of school violence are taken seriously and immediately reported to the Fishers Police Department for investigation. Parents should remind their student(s) that any threat – even if they think it is a joke – will result in consequences. Students will face disciplinary measures as outlined in the Student Handbook. Further, a student’s actions in regard to making a violent threat(s), may result in criminal charges at discretion of local law enforcement.

School safety is all of our responsibility. We will continue to remain diligent in our efforts to keep our students and staff safe while in our care.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools statement on 12/9/21
At Anderson Community Schools we have been in close contact with our local police, building administrators, and other key school personnel regarding the social media posts on TikTok. No one has evidence of any threat locally or involving any of our schools. With that said, since there has been no confirmed threat locally, we have not sent out a message to parents at this time. However, we continue to monitor this situation closely and will be increasing police presence at our buildings tomorrow out of precaution.
Brad Meadows, Director of District and Community Engagement at Anderson Community Schools
We have recently been made aware of a national TikTok trend regarding threats of school violence on Friday, December 17. There are no threats specific to Noblesville Schools. Schools will be in session tomorrow and as always, our Noblesville Police Department resource officers and safety dogs will be actively monitoring our buildings and operations.

Please take this opportunity to discuss with your children that inappropriate comments, posts or jokes about threats of violence on social media can have serious consequences.

We encourage parents to closely monitor their child’s social media activity and for students to speak with an adult if they see or hear something concerning. Concerns should be reported to the police, school leaders, or through our confidential SpeakUp App (on student iPads).

Noblesville Schools, in a message sent to families
Dear CCS Families,

We have seen very early reports of a new national social media challenge on TikTok regarding threats of school violence for Friday, December 17. The challenge originated outside of Indiana and there are no specific threats to Carmel Clay Schools.

Parents are encouraged to discuss appropriate online behavior with their children. Any threat of violence can have very serious consequences.

As always, any concern should be reported directly to school administration, the Carmel Police Department or through the StopIt system.
Carmel Clay Schools
Dear FCS Families,

Franklin Community Schools has become aware of a troubling post that has been shared nationally this week on the social media platform, TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, December 17.

The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend. We have heard reports from other districts that the same post is circulating in their schools. While FCS and the Franklin Police Department do not believe the threat is credible or targeted at FCS, we are closely monitoring the situation and taking it seriously. As you know, we have already increased law enforcement presence in our buildings through the end of the semester.

This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families, and staff. We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online.

Please remember: if you see something, say something.

As always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment for our students.
Dr. David Clendening