A number of local school districts will be stepping up security as officials say there's a new social media challenge encouraging kids to make threats against their own schools.
The dark side of social media is taking its toll on schools, as the latest trending threat is supposedly aimed at schools across the country on Friday.
"It’s a little bit of a TikTok challenge, saying all schools in the United States will be targeted on Dec. 17th and there are some kids dancing in front of a video," said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
Schools and police from New York to Connecticut to New Jersey sent notices to parents recently. Law enforcement agencies across the country, including the FBI, emphasize the threat is not credible. But that hasn’t stopped parents from worrying.
"I think parents are very worried. I've had several people reach out and ask whether I plan to send my children to school tomorrow," said Hoboken City Councilwoman Emily Jabbour.
In Hoboken, like all other school districts on high alert, more police can be expected at schools on Friday.
"Knowing there are no credible threats at this time is very factual information and hopefully help parents make decisions about how their families will operate tomorrow," Jabbour said.
TikTok tweeted it takes all threats seriously, but claims it has not found any threats on its platforms.
The Connecticut Education Association was not buying what the social media company's had said, saying in a statement: “Just this week, Connecticut and the nation marked the somber 9th anniversary of the Newtown massacre, and social media corporations have the ability to monitor, track, and remove posts that threaten public safety, and that they should be held accountable when they fail to do so."
In just the last week, four schools in New Jersey and Connecticut have been plagued by threats made on social media. At least one minor was arrested.
Police and educators urged parents to talk to their kids about not participating in the trend, and officials asked the public to stop re-posting the threats — which makes finding the perpetrator that much more difficult.
"I’m talking to all the parents now, all the citizen groups out there ... please stop reposting, call 911," Ryder said. "Now we’re dealing with — chasing our tail here basically — constantly after threat after threat and repost after repost."