US police to increase school presence today after disturbing threats circulate on TikTok
"We handle even rumoured threats with utmost seriousness."
Police forces across the US are "keeping a close eye on schools" today as a result of "nationwide generic school threat conversations" that have allegedly taken place on TikTok.
Though the initial threat, said to encourage students to commit acts of violence at school on December 17, has not been verified, there are hundreds of TikTok posts referencing it and warning students to take precautions or skip school.
According to People, the threat, or what some have referred to as a "challenge," labels today's date "National Shoot Up Your School Day".
No specific school or school district was named, so the confusion and concern amongst students and parents exists on a national level.
A number of law enforcement agencies across the US have issued a response to the viral claims, stating that the threats do not appear credible and are more than likely a hoax.
Yet police forces and TikTok itself have stated the threats will be taken seriously regardless of whether or not they appear to be fake.
"We handle even rumoured threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we're working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok," the company said in a statement posted to Twitter.
The Winona Police Department in Minnesota wrote: "We have been made aware of a challenge circulating in recent days on TikTok to threaten gun violence in schools on Friday, Dec. 17. There have been no specific threats made against any Winona schools, but we want to be proactive in preventing someone from committing a serious crime.
"If anyone participates in this challenge they could be facing felony crimes and possible expulsion from school. This is not something we will take lightly."
North Port Police in Florida wrote that it takes "all threats, joking or not, seriously" and would have "additional resources" at schools in the area today.
— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) December 16, 2021
The Naugatuck Police Department in Connecticut also said they would increase police presence at schools.
"Due to an uptick in unrelated threats at schools in the region, the Naugatuck Police will be increasing our presence and patrols at Borough Schools in the coming days," they wrote.
"While there has been NO threat against Naugatuck Schools, students, or staff, the public can anticipate our presence to increase the community's sense of safety during the coming school days."
The viral claims come less than three weeks after a school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, in which four students were killed.
The accused gunman, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley, has been charged as an adult with multiple crimes, including terrorism causing death and four counts of first-degree murder.
He has pleaded not guilty.