HAVERHILL (CBS) — Some schools are trying to put a stop to a TikTok challenge that could put kids and teachers in danger.
As students were dismissed on Tuesday, many of them were seen on their phones.READ MORE: Boston To Remove Tents At 'Mass And Cass' Homeless Encampments; Public Health Crisis Declared
“Constantly as you saw the children leaving—everybody has a phone and it doesn’t even matter the age,” said Tim Briggs, an 8th-grade teacher and President of the Haverhill Education Association.
“All of them are on TikTok. I’m in trouble for not having one,” Taylor Garrett said before picking up her sister from school.
“They’re used to getting a reaction immediately and they post something and all of the sudden the likes start popping. So, what are they going to do? They are going to keep going and keep posting,” Briggs added.
The challenge goes by month. Each month, it calls for a different devious act.
“The most recent challenge for the month of October encourages students to commit a disturbing, violent act by slapping a teacher or school staff member. We have absolutely zero tolerance for such behavior,” Haverhill High School officials wrote in the school’s the first week of October.
Though there haven’t been any slapping incidents yet, students familiar with the challenges say they’re being talked to.READ MORE: Plane Headed To ALCS Game In Boston Crashes In Texas, No Serious Injuries Reported
“We all had to have a meeting because they were taking stuff from school, that it needs to stop,” said Haverhill High School student Jayla Noe.
Briggs said the issue is part of a much larger one.
“I think the TikTok challenges are kind of just part of this whole thing. We have students that have been away from school for so long at least as a whole group. And where have they been? Online. How have they gotten attention? Through TikTok.” he said.
“It’s about behavior and it’s about and it’s about addressing it. They got ahead of us. They really did and we are playing catch up right now as educators. We got behind being so concerned with a learning loss that we didn’t recognize that it was more of a socialization loss and a loss of experience for these kids. We were worried more about English and math than we were about socialization and behavior and what did they replace that with? Being online.” Briggs added.
He said this challenge is no laughing matter. “I’ve recommended to my members if they get struck—be prepared to file a suit. Yes, it’s one thing to recognize we’ve all gone through hard times but that doesn’t mean we get a pass on norms of behavior.”
Parents are being encouraged to speak with their children about these challenges.MORE NEWS: Products In Your Medicine Cabinet May Soon Be Getting More Expensive
“The teachers and administrators have other things they need to be dealing with than kids vandalizing schools and slapping a teacher,” said parent Stephen Chmieleski. “We reassure them that if they are caught doing something like this—we aren’t going to be happy.”