Agua Fria Union High School District campuses are being especially vigilant today following a TikTok trend warning of school shootings across the U.S.
The district issued an alert on its website and in a text message to district families it has been made aware of a “national social media Tik Tok challenge (encouraging) school shootings.”
“While this is not specific to any school in our district, we take safety and security very seriously,” the alert continued. “As such, there will be increased visibility from school administration and school resource officers for the remainder of the week.”
The district added despite the troubling videos, classes will continue as normal.
Ominous videos posted to TikTok warn students attending school Friday, Dec. 17, and suggest violence may occur, causing some schools to shut down two weeks after a shooting in an Oxford, Michigan, school left four dead and seven injured.
Sgt. Sean Clarke with the Goodyear Police Department told the Independent in an email that while the department is “monitoring closely” it has not found any viable threats against campuses within the city.
Despite that, the department will have “an increased presence at the schools” on Friday and is keeping in contact with district staff, Clarke said.
It is unclear if the videos circulating online were made to encourage campus violence or as a warning against potential violence.
The nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise, which was established by the loved ones of those killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, tweeted: "A national TikTok challenge promotes school shootings on December 17. Gun violence is not a subject for jokes or pranks."
However, the Chinese video-sharing app with more than 1 billion annual users said in a statement while it’s working with law enforcement agencies, the platform has not found content promoting school shootings.
“What we find are videos discussing this rumor and warning others to stay safe,” the company said in a Dec. 17 tweet.
TikTok added it is working to remove “alarmist warnings that violate our misinformation policy,” and that if the platform came across videos promoting violence, those would be removed and reported to law enforcement.
Campus threats saw an uptick this year.
The Center for Homeland Defense and Security reported a record high of 151 threats made against U.S. campuses in September. Half of all threats came from social media.
Classes were interrupted two days in a row at Canyon View High School in September following two separate campus bomb threats.
On Sept. 17, four additional Valley campuses received threats and were either evacuated or locked down.
Law enforcement agents found nothing after searching the campuses but urged responsible behavior on social media.
Madeline Ackley can be reached at email@example.com or found on Twitter @Mkayackley.
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