PARK RIDGE, Illinois (WLS) — An unwarranted threat of school violence spreading through the social media app TikTok has prompted several Chicago area school districts to respond Friday.
Police say there is absolutely no evidence that the threats are credible. Some districts, such as Park Ridge, have stepped up patrols as a precaution.
“This is just something where someone was posting and encouraging violence in the schools,” Park Ridge Police Department’s Tom Gadowski said. “Very simple. I don’t want to go further than to say that violence is encouraged.”
The anonymous messages circulating online warned that schools across the country would receive shooting and bomb threats on Friday. The messages also encourage students to stay at home.
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The authorities believe that the threats are not credible. Still, some police forces are stepping up their presence around schools, ready and alert for anything out of the ordinary.
“Every police department takes any kind of threat very seriously, be it a note left in the bathroom or social media that now has a national platform,” Gadowski said.
Chicago Public Schools warns parents in a warning: “The post is vague and not targeted at a specific school, and is circulating in school districts across the country,” adding, “Please do not re-share suspicious or worrying posts on social media. “
Several suburban school districts sent out similar warnings.
“If the school is doing its part, don’t worry,” said John Davis, parent of a Main South High School student.
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The superintendent of Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 sent his note to parents, saying that more police will be at buildings on Dec. 17.
Barrington School District 220 has also made its community aware of the national threats. School officials said Barrington Police have confirmed that the threats are unfounded at this time and that there is no viable threat to students or staff.
District 220 also said it will add police support in the coming days, in addition to the school resource officer, “as a precautionary measure to reassure students and staff.”
TikTok says it has been working with law enforcement to investigate and that it is “handling even rumors of threats with the utmost seriousness”.
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Glenview Police said they were aware of the threat and encouraged everyone to remain vigilant, but added there is no credible information linking it to an Illinois school.
Glenview Police said they will continue to patrol all school grounds in the area. Suspicious activities should be reported to the police, the department said.
Full Statement from Chicago Public Schools on Online School Threats
Dear CPS Employees, Parents and Families,
The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and we are writing to let you know that the District and Chicago Police Department (CPD) are aware of a viral TikTok postal alert for nationwide threats that is expected to take place on Friday, December . 17, 2021. The post is vague and not targeted at a specific school, and is circulating in school districts across the country.
There is currently no known threat to a CPS facility, but we take this threat very seriously and are working with CPD. Should any security issues arise, they will be promptly and thoroughly investigated according to CPS protocol to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff.
Safety is a collective responsibility and I want to emphasize the importance of using social media responsibly. Do not re-share suspicious or worrying posts on social media. Instead, if you or your child sees something that looks like a threat, the most impactful step is to report it to your school immediately so we can investigate the situation as quickly as possible. If it is outside of regular school hours, please email [email protected]
Thank you so much for your support.
Chief Safety and Security Officer
Public Schools in Chicago
Dear CPS Colleagues, Parents and Families,
The safety of our students and colleagues is our top priority, and we are writing to inform you that the district and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) are aware of a viral TikTok postal alert for nationwide threats that was set to take place on Friday, 17 December 2021. The post is inaccurate, not targeted at any particular school, and is currently circulating through school districts across the country.
There is currently no threat to any specific CPS building, but we take these threats seriously and are working with CPD. If security issues arise, they will be promptly investigated and CPS protocols followed to ensure the safety of our students and schools.
Safety is a collective responsibility and I would like to emphasize the importance of using social media responsibly. Avoid sharing suspicious or incendiary videos on social media.
We remind you to be vigilant and if you or your child see anything suspicious or appear to be a threat, please contact your school or the police immediately so we can investigate the situation as soon as possible. If you are out of regular school hours, please email [email protected]
Thank you so much for your support.
Director of Security and Protection
Public Schools in Chicago
Full Statement on Circulating Social Media Information of District 207
We are writing to share with you information regarding posts on Tik Tok regarding National School Violence due to take place on Friday, December 17th. The Des Plaines Police Department and the Park Ridge Police Department are both aware of these non-specific national messages being circulated. Both have indicated after investigation that these threats are not credible.
As a precaution, extra police will be present at our schools tomorrow, in addition to our school resources being present at our schools as usual.
As we shared before, parents or students who have information about school safety and security should call 9-1-1 or use the anonymous alert system at https://www.anonymousalerts.com/mainetownshiphsd207/.
Given the number of recent threats on social media, both local and national, it is also important for parents and students to know that IF we are made aware of a credible threat against our schools, we will be diligent and act quickly. That means involving the police and other authorities, informing our families and taking all security measures to protect students and staff in our schools. It is unfortunate that social media is used in this way by a very small percentage, but we will remain diligent in our efforts.
We look forward to a normal school day tomorrow as we close the first semester of school. It has been great to see students learning at school over the past 5 months. Have a wonderful holiday!
dr. Mike Pressler, head of Maine East
dr. Ben Collins, Head of Maine South
dr. Eileen McMahon, head of Maine West
dr. Anna Hamilton, Director of Frost Academy
Full statement from Barrington School District 220 on nationwide TikTok viral post
Dear Barrington 220 Community,
Barrington 220 has been notified of a national threat circulating on TikTok regarding gun violence in schools. More specifically, these TikTok posts seen in school districts across the country threaten nationwide violence in schools on December 17, 2021.
Upon learning of this information, the district leaders contacted the Barrington Police Department. Barrington Police have confirmed that these threats are unfounded at this time and that there is no viable threat to students or staff. There are no reports or posts specific to Barrington 220 schools.
As a precautionary measure and to reassure students and staff, in addition to our School Resource Officer, we will be adding police support as part of our standard response procedures in the coming days. Since they are every day, school social workers will also be available to students who may need support.
“If you see something, say something” is a phrase we often share with our students. We encourage parents to talk to their children about vigilant behavior, including online and via social media, that could harm anyone. If a student witnesses harmful behavior, it must be reported immediately. For information about reporting incidents anonymously, please visit the Safety 220 page on our neighborhood website.
While we are all aware of the positive and negative effects social media can have on a student’s life, it can be an opportunity for families to discuss the importance of internet safety, physical safety, and mental health. For additional resources, please visit the SEL/Mental Health section of our website.
The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority and we are committed to providing a safe and secure educational environment.
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