TikTok threats of bombs and school shootings
Central Illinois schools were on alert last Friday after threats of violence surfaced on social media.
Arthur Superintendent Shannon Cheek sent an alert to families last Thursday regarding an online threat against all schools. He said the Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center found a threat circulating on the social medium TikTok for “school shootings and bomb threats for every school in the USA even elementary,” on Friday, Dec. 17. Cheek stated, “The original post was general and not directed at a specific school in the country and has been circulating through school districts in several states. This information has been shared with our school administration, and local law enforcement.”
Cerro Gordo Superintendent Brett Robinson and Mt. Zion Superintendent Dr. Travis Roundcount also alerted parents in their districts of the non-specific threat, telling them in a group email “I am writing to inform you and not to alarm you.” “Please know that, in conjunction with local law enforcement, we will continue to monitor social media and make sure our campus security and campus patrol are vigilant,” they both wrote. “There are no indications of known threats within our schools or our community at this time. We are sharing this notice out of an abundance of caution and as a precautionary measure.”
Sheila Greenwood, Bement Interim School Superintendent stated, “We decided not to send an email out to parents and guardians about the TikTok threat. There have been other TikTok threats recently and those didn’t garner the attention that this one did.”
She went on to say, “I was in touch with state authorities and made sure we were taking the proper safety measures. We made sure ALL of our staff were aware and informed. The more social media presence a threat like that gets only exacerbates the problem. We always take things like that seriously because student and staff safety are priority number one.”
Some school districts in Illinois opted to close school on Friday and others didn’t allow students to bring book bags asking them to only bring their Chrome Books to school.
On Wednesday of last week, the largest union in the state, the Illinois Education Association, urged schools to immediately create threat assessment teams and procedures.
In 2019, the Illinois legislature passed the School Threat Assessment Bill, which requires Illinois schools to develop a threat assessment team that makes crisis response plans and safety drill programs, including for “targeted school violence.”
The Illinois Education Association also announced new legislation intended to increase enforcement of the 2019 law by requiring schools to report on their plans annually.