Schools districts across the U.S. have been alerting parents of a challenge dubbed “slap a teacher” in which students apparently encourage one another to assault educators.
On Oct. 1, the Lancaster County School District in South Carolina revealed on Facebook that an elementary student had struck a teacher.
“Unfortunately, the challenge that has been put out for this month is to slap or hit a staff member from behind,” the district reported on its ‘School District Safety & Transportation’ page. “Sadly, we actually had an elementary student assault a teacher by striking her in the back of the head.
“This type of behavior just like theft and destruction of property is not a prank. It’s criminal behavior.
“Any student who physically assaults a staff member will be held responsible both legally and by board policy. Assault on a staff member is an expellable offense which means the student is removed from the school for the rest of the year,” the post added.
The district had posted the “warning” to parents about the incident that it said occurred “as a result of the TikTok challenge.”
In response, TikTok told Fox News in a statement, “This alleged ‘challenge’ would violate our policies, and we would aggressively remove such content, but the reality is that we have not found related content on our platform, and most people appear to be learning about the offline dare from sources other than TikTok.”
Fox News uncovered no search results for “slap a teacher” or related phrases on TikTok. There were, however, 11 videos posted by teachers discouraging assaults on teachers.
Bryan Vaughn, Lancaster County’s director of school safety and transportation services, who authored the Facebook post, has not yet responded to Fox News’ request for comment.
In September, school districts were reporting theft and vandalism by children who followed a viral TikTok trend called “devious licks,” in which kids filmed themselves destroying and stealing school property and later shared footage on TikTok.
Video results using the hashtag #deviouslicks were blocked. In addition, no results were found for a search of the phrase itself.
“This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines,” according to an empty search results page for “devious licks” and “slap a teacher.” “Promoting a safe and positive experience is TikTok’s top priority. For more information, we invite you to review our Community Guidelines.”
On Sept. 17, Fox News reported that a Florida teen had been arrested in connection with the “devious licks” trend. The 15-year-old juvenile was not identified due to his age, according to the Bartow Police Department.
Several districts have since sent out public statements to parents on the “devious licks” challenge as well as “slap a teacher.”
Lafayette Parish School System in Lafayette, Louisiana, also released a notice to district parents Oct. 5 “to address the latest TikTok trend.”
“Now we hear the challenges are escalating, and kids are being encouraged to hit or slap a staff member, moving from property damage to violence,” Superintendent Irma Trosclair wrote. “Please make sure your student realizes that these challenges are not innocent pranks.”
“Serious disciplinary action will be imposed on students being destructive or displaying any inappropriate behavior,” Troslclair added. “Restitution will be made for damaged property. Additionally, theft, vandalism and striking a teacher will lead to police involvement. No exceptions will be made for such behaviors. These continued challenges highlight the negative effects of peer pressure sometimes found on social media.”
Troslclair also reminded parents to have talks with their children about being tech responsible and making good choices at school.
Troslclair has not yet responded to Fox News’ request for comment.
Even without having a “slap a teacher” incident, districts appear to be issuing preemptive warnings.
A list circulating online includes challenges for each month of the school year. September was reportedly “vandalize school bathrooms” and October is dedicated to “smack a staff member.”
“We are hearing of offline teen dares being suggested as future ‘TikTok challenges’ and want to be crystal clear: dangerous challenges and illegal behavior are not allowed on our platform and will be removed,” a TikTok spokesperson told Fox News. “We expect teens to use common courtesy both online and IRL, and we’re committed to helping support messages about being good digital stewards.”