What is the TikTok Dec. 17 threat?
Schools in South Jersey and the nation have had to scramble to investigate and respond to what they’ve described as “an increase in social media posts circulating about unspecific and non-credible threats.” The day is being described on some social media platforms as “National School Shooter Day.”
While not getting into specifics, the threat appears to be centered around posts on social media platforms, including the latest one on TikTok, that have hinted at a possible threat to schools on Dec. 17. There are no specific details about the type of threat, other than a mention of “bombs” and “shootings”.
How are local districts handling the threat?
On Thursday, Hamilton Township School District sent out the following message to parents: “We are seeing an increase in social media posts circulating about unspecific and non-credible threats against our school district. The Hamilton Township School District is in constant communication with the Township of Hamilton Police Department. This relationship is extremely important, particularly when there is a potential threat to public safety involving children and staff. As we work through these threats we will continue to have increased police presence in and around our schools as we deem appropriate to safeguard the community. School will be open on our regular schedule tomorrow (Friday).”
Vineland Superintendent Alfonso Llano sent a letter to the community reminding children not to share such messages and report threats that may come to their attention.
“Messages such as this current one, circulating in numerous states, typically confuse and heighten anxiety among some school community members,” Llano said.
Stafford Township police said that though the threat has been deemed not credible, there will be a heightened police and security presence at all local schools.
Greater Egg Harbor Regional sent out a letter to parents on Wednesday also citing possible threats but saying that they were not believed to be credible.
“Both the Greater Egg Harbor Regional and Egg Harbor City School Districts along with the Egg Harbor City Police Department have received numerous inquiries regarding recent threats made against our school communities to include a TikTok trend that is being viewed as a “national threat” to schools across the US on December 17, 2021,” according to statement from Marcella Aylwin, Egg Harbor City chief of police on Thursday. “The Egg Harbor City Police Department and both school districts have been in constant communication due to these concerns. Although we have not found any of these current threats credible to our districts, we stay steadfast in ensuring the safety of students and staff alike. We will continue to have an extra police presence at our schools until the threats are resolved to each of their ends.”
Mainland Regional High School sent an email to parents on Thursday stating the following:
“The New Jersey Office of School Preparedness and Emergency Planning has notified school districts of a general nationwide threat against schools tomorrow, Friday December 17, 2021. These threats are being posted on social media.
At this time, there is no direct or specific threat against Mainland Regional High School, but out of an abundance of caution and in response to these posts, the district will be increasing the presence of law enforcement at the high school tomorrow (12/17/21).
As always, if you see or hear something of concern, then please say something by contacting the high school or the Linwood Police Department.”
How long has this been happening?
Over the last couple of weeks, several area school districts have had either lockdowns or early dismissals because of threats.
On Tuesday, Ocean City High School students were dismissed early after receiving a report of a threat of violence. The threat was deemed not credible, according to Ocean City officials.
On Monday, police said a threat against Wildwood Middle School was found to not be credible.
Other area schools have reported similar incidents during the past two weeks.
Police from Atlantic City and Northfield were summoned to their local schools last week for reported threats posted on social media, both of which were deemed not credible.
Also last week, a Snapchat photo with “HHS shooting 12/10/21” was brought to Egg Harbor Township High School’s attention by a student. An investigation also deemed that threat invalid, according to Kim Gruccio, district superintendent