Parents across New Jersey are getting emails from their school districts about a social media challenge that predicts school violence on Friday, December 17. And while the threats are not deemed credible, many school districts are still taking action, ramping up police presence and making parents aware of the situation.
The videos, which were seen on TikTok and SnapChat, warn of nationwide school shootings, bombings and murder to take place tomorrow. Hashtags including tomorrow’s date were used, though no specific schools or districts in New Jersey were mentioned.
The messages come at a time when schools and parents are already on high alert following the deadly shooting at a Michigan high school last month. Since then, schools in New Jersey reported 11 threats and two incidents of students bringing guns to school. This occurred in Somerset, Hudson, Ocean, Glouster and Mercer counties. A student at Lawrence Township High School reportedly brought a loaded handgun to school.
The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the state Department of Education’s Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning alerted New Jersey school districts to the December 17 challenge.
In Princeton, a message from the superintendent was emailed to parents Thursday afternoon.
.”..in light of recent events both locally and nationally, there will be an increased police presence tomorrow within our PPS schools. This police presence is in addition to building monitors who are on-site daily at each school throughout the District,” said Carol L. Kelley.
“Another integral piece of school security is listening to one another and taking action. If we see or hear something that is concerning, we must raise an alert to individuals (e.g., building administration, teacher, school counselor, the local authorities) who can investigate and provide support. It is this collective efficacy that helps to protect us as a community.”
In Ridgewood, superintendent Thomas Gorman wrote to parents that these social media threats are often made to increase anxiety and confusion.
“The Ridgewood Police Department is monitoring the situation carefully and maintaining close contact with us,” he wrote. “Out of an abundance of caution, they are increasing patrols in and around our schools. Messages such as this one are often posted to cause confusion and increase anxiety.”
In Clifton School District, assistant superintendent Mark Gengaro encouraged parents to talk to their children about the threat.
“We encourage you to speak with your child and let them know that the Clifton Public School District takes every threat seriously,” he said.