Schools in the U.S. Taking Precautions Over Disturbing TikTok Threat for Dec. 17: 'I'm Scared'
A number of school districts around the country are responding to an anonymous threat on TikTok that seemingly warns against students attending class on Friday.
The threat, or "challenge," as some have referred to it, reportedly calls on students to commit acts of violence on Dec. 17. According to Syracuse.com, the threat labeled December 17, "National Shoot Up Your School Day," and does not name a specific school or district.
While PEOPLE was not able to identify the TikTok post where the threat originated, there are now hundreds of other TikTok posts referencing the challenge and warning students to take precautions.
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"Idk if this is true or not but apparently there is a threat on December 17 2021, schools in America are going to have a school shooting or bombing," one user on the platform wrote. "[Once] again idk if this is true but if it is, stay safe. My mom called and told me so I looked it up. ... stay safe America."
Added another: "I'm scared off my a—, what do I do???"
In a statement, TikTok said it has not found evidence of the threat despite the alarming posts that have since gone viral.
"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," the company said in a statement sent to PEOPLE and published on Twitter.
A spokesperson told PEOPLE that the company is investigating.
The warnings reference the threat has been enough to elicit a response from school districts and law enforcement agencies as students prepare for classes on Friday.
"Law-enforcement agencies around the country are keeping a close eye on schools in the wake of nationwide generic school threat conversations," Florida's North Port Police Department wrote in a tweet on Thursday evening.
"The threats circulating on social media claiming that December 17 is a day to do harm at schools," they added. "The Northport Police Department is aware of the information. We take all threats, joking or not, seriously."
The Naugatuck Police Department in Connecticut issued a release telling parents they would increase their presence at schools in the "coming days."
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"Due to an uptick in unrelated threats at schools in the region, the Naugatuck Police will be increasing our presence and patrols at Borough Schools in the coming days," they wrote. "While there has been NO threat against Naugatuck Schools, students, or staff, the public can anticipate our presence to increase the community's sense of safety during the coming school days."
The warnings come less than three weeks after four Oxford High School students were killed during a school shooting in Michigan. Ethan Crumbley, 15, is charged as an adult with multiple crimes, including terrorism causing death and four counts of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
This week also marked nine years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.