Parents, students concerned amid nationwide social media threats

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Schools all over the country beefed up security on Friday in response to the disturbing challenge spreading on the social media platform, TikTok.

Anonymous posts made their way across the platform, threatening shootings and bombings in schools.

The Roanoke County Police Department says the threats made things a bit chaotic for the department as concerned parents were calling most of the day on Friday, Dec. 17.

“Today’s been a whirlwind of a day,” said Sgt. Dan Walters of the Roanoke County Police Department.

“From a police department standpoint, we’re very happy that parents, students, and teachers were calling us to advise on those situations so we could investigate this properly,” explained Walters.

Police departments and sheriff’s offices already have enough stress dealing with national staff shortages.

“There’s only so many things an officer can do with regards to investigations,” said Walters.

According to Walters, the community is instrumental in helping with these types of situations because tracking threats on social media is tough.

“Quite honestly, the frontline’s going to be the students, the parents,” said Walters. “As soon as they hear something, they need to report it — no matter how minor or how major they think it is.”

A local parent, Leticia Clay, says the threat has added even more stress in an already tense atmosphere.

“It’s enough going on in the world without being afraid to send your children to school,” expressed Clay.

Clay says people need to pay more attention to what kids are doing in school and at home.

“I don’t know if it’s more security in schools or parents watching more of what their kids do online,” said Clay.

High school senior Landon McCraw says he doesn’t think TikTok should be used for making threats.

“I mean, they shouldn’t even be doing that really,” said McCraw. “It’s not the best thing to do. It can ruin their school.”

The Roanoke County Police Department says if someone is caught making threats against schools, it won’t be just a slap on the wrist. They could go to jail, serve prison time, or even be charged with terrorism.

In a statement on Twitter, TikTok says it has not found evidence of these threats originating or spreading on TikTok, but is working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools.

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