LOCAL NEWS

Schools warn of new TikTok trend that encourages assaulting teachers

Oct 5, 2021, 1:56 PM | Updated: 2:00 pm

SANDY, Utah — A new TikTok challenge has some Utah teachers concerned for their safety.

In the October challenge, students are encouraged to slap a teacher for likes and comments.

School districts KSL’s Tamara Vaifanua talked to say assaulting school employees won’t be tolerated, and those caught participating could face criminal charges and be expelled.

In September, the “devious licks” trend on TikTok was all about students filming themselves damaging school bathrooms. Several Canyons School District students were caught in the act.

Utah schools fall victim to TikTok trend encouraging vandalism

“One of our schools, $2,000 worth of soap dispensers were taken. That’s just at one school,” said Jeff Haney, Canyons School District spokesperson.

October brings a new challenge called “slap a teacher,” all for likes and comments.

Schools are once again warning students about the consequences.

In a letter sent to parents, the Granite School District warned such acts will be aggressively investigated and charged. And when convicted, students and families will be responsible to compensate for damages.

“New challenges have been introduced which would have students sexually harass fellow students or assault school employees,” Granite School District officials said in the letter. “We call upon parents and families to help our children understand that such acts are criminal. In the interest of our staff and students’ safety, such acts will be aggressively investigated and charged and invariably, when convicted, students and families will be responsible to compensate for damages.”

It’s a similar message principals in the Canyons School District are sending to their student’s parents.

Haney said teachers gave them a heads-up about this latest challenge.

“They expressed concern that the students are going to take it seriously, but we want them to know we stand behind them,” he said.

An expert who studies social media urges parents to talk to their children about the dangers of this activity and look at what their children are watching online.

“And they think, ‘OK, if these people are getting notoriety, then it will be worth it. It’ll be worth it if I’m suspended from school,’ and this is even if they think about consequences,” said Dr. Sara Levens, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Haney said it’s just not worth it. Students could get arrested, suspended or expelled.

“Even if you don’t show your face on that TikTok video, we have a very robust surveillance system and all of our schools,” Haney said. “We’ll find out who you are.”

Both Canyons and Granite school districts said they haven’t had any recent incidents and they want to keep it that way. If a student sees this happening, authorities urged them to report it. They can do so anonymously through the Safe UT app.

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Schools warn of new TikTok trend that encourages assaulting teachers