29 school threats reported across Minnesota as school leaders monitor TikTok challenge
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Many Minnesota school districts and law enforcement officials on Friday were monitoring a national TikTok trend involving school violence.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says agencies around Minnesota reported 29 threats to schools — with nearly half of those coming in a 24-hour span.
It involves threats of shootings and bombings posted on the social media platform that were supposed to happen on Friday.
"It really scares me," said Natile Heinen, a Minnesota parent.
"This is not ding-dong ditch, this is not putting toilet paper on people’s houses, this is serious," DPS Assistant Commissioner Booker Hodges said. "We take all these threats seriously."
While most districts in Minnesota held in-person classes on Friday, some decided to close early and others, including Farmington and Maplewood Middle School, went to distance learning.
One Minnesota parent who spoke to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS wishes more schools would just cancel classes in these situations.
"Who cares if the kids miss a day of school because of a threat, it’s no big deal, at least they’re alive," Heinen said.
Lakeville Area Schools sent a note out to the community that classes were canceled because of an overnight threat. Education leaders across the state believe this could be a teaching moment for kids.
"This is an added opportunity to say let’s talk about this, tell me what’s going on," Minnesota Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Stephanie Burrage said.
Burrage said she believes this is the time to talk to your kids about being responsible on social media.
"It opens the door for the opportunity for parents to continue their conversations around social media, so that is a positive out of an unpleasant situation," Burrage said.
DPS reports that none of the threats are credible to any specific schools. But even beyond the target date of Dec. 17, Hodges says those responsible for the posts could face charges for terroristic threats and he’s encouraging anyone with information to come forward.
"Yes, there could be potential jail time," Hodges said.