Tampa Bay school districts respond to rumors of TikTok trend threatening gun violence

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – School districts across Tampa Bay are responding to threats of violence on social media by reassuring parents it’s safe to send their children to school on Friday.

“It’s a national thing, it’s not specific to Pasco County or Hillsborough or Pinellas or anybody else, but when people see it on social media they think it might be somehow related to their school,” Pasco Schools spokesperson Steve Hegarty said.

The threats circulating on social media are telling students to stay home because Friday, Dec. 17 is a day to do harm in school.

“Local law enforcement has seen no evidence that there is any credibility to the social media posts,” a voice recording sent to Hillsborough County Public School parents said. “Nevertheless, they will continue to investigate. Please know these posts are fairly generic and they do not directly relate to any of our schools or the district.”

A Facebook post from the Citrus County School District mentioned a viral threat on Tik Tok that focused on a shooting at a school.

“As we always do, along with our partners at the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, we will continue to closely monitor social media and will follow up on any threat that is brought to our attention,” the post said. “Law enforcement, along with our school guardians, will continue to be at schools throughout the day and will be on alert for any of these threats.”

School districts are asking parents and students to not share posts that threaten schools or individuals, but rather report them to their school or law enforcement.

“Please talk to your children about the seriousness of making these types of claims and the consequences, which could result in an arrest and/or removal from your school,” North Port Police said in a Tweet and Facebook post.

This school year 8 On Your Side has reported on so-called Tik Tok challenges that have led to vandalism and property damage in schools.

That prompted Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister to release a PSA in October saying “it may all seem like a silly Tik Tok, but trust me it will have very real consequences.”

The Tik Tok communications team released a statement on Twitter saying: “We handle even rumored 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.”

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