Hudson Valley colleges warn dad and mom about risks of TikTok challenges
Schools try to prevent TikTok challenges by issuing their own TikTok warnings.
They are calling on parents across the Hudson Valley to speak to their children about the dangers of so-called TikTok challenges before incidents can occur.
“We are extremely concerned that student continued participation in these challenges will not only disrupt our learning environment but also increase the risk of suspension or exclusion for our students,” wrote Jeff Sobel, acting interim director of Clarkstown Schools in a message to his community.
Last month, posts on TikTok urged students to destroy school property, particularly bathrooms, a challenge known as “sneaky leaks”. Now, on the social network for video sharing, students are dared to “beat your teacher”.
Rochelle’s new superintendent, Jonathan Raymond, wrote to parents that they must work together to keep the children from overcoming the challenges.
“Even if your child doesn’t engage in social media, other students are likely to hear about these trends,” he wrote. “It is vitally important to educate your child about the grave implications of these actions and we ask that you have an open dialogue with your child about these indecent and dangerous challenges on social media.
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Regarding bathroom vandalism, Sobel’s note states that many school districts in the area have set toilet use schedules or rearranged monitors to reduce the possibility of “destructive behavior”.
The districts are on high alert for attempts to beat or beating teachers or staff, but officials are so far unaware of any incidents. New York State United Teachers, which represents more than 600,000 teachers and other school staff, has not received any threats or incidents with teachers, said spokesman Matt Hamilton.
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said, “A safe learning and working environment for all students and staff is of the utmost importance, and these troubling challenges on social media contradict the values that educators and parents seek to instill in our students.”
Eric Byrne, president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents, said he hadn’t heard from colleagues about incidents with teachers until Tuesday.
For now, the districts are trying to avert problems by emphasizing students and parents that taking up a TikTok challenge may be very serious.
“Our director of safety and security has instructed all school monitors and school resource officers to be vigilant for anyone attempting this or any other challenge,” Newburgh Schools acting headmaster Ed Forgit posted on the district website on Tuesday. “In addition, all reports of this behavior are checked, stored and, if necessary, passed on to the local law enforcement authorities in the district monitoring system.”
Mahopac Superintendent Anthony DiCarlo put it in a communication to his community: “These so-called ‘challenges’ are only calls to students to commit violence, theft, sexual harassment and other behaviors that are not tolerated in our schools. Please speak to your children and make sure they understand that anyone who engages in such actions will be punished. Friendliness counts in our schools. “
TikTok has rejected these challenges, saying in a statement that it is removing such content and that the “slap a teacher” venture is an “insult to educators everywhere”. It also referred parents to an online guide to TikTok created by TikTok and the National PTA.
On Friday, Betty Pringle, president of the National Education Association, which represents 3 million people in education, wrote in a letter to the heads of TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that social media trends have helped create a “culture of fear and violence targeting educators. “The letter was published by the Wall Street Journal.
Pallotta also urged social media companies to “counter these disgusting trends and stop promoting violence and destruction in our schools”.
Gary Stern is the editor / writer for K-12 Education in the Hudson Valley. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @garysternNY. Click here for his latest.