An alleged threat to schools nationwide via the social media platform TikTok caused some panic among parents, students and school officials on Friday, and with the exception of an isolated event at the end of the day in Dayton, there were no disruptions in the school day for most children.
The incident in Dayton took place at the end of the school day when a young passenger following a Dayton ISD school bus brandished a weapon, reportedly pointing the weapon at the bus.
“There was a student behind a bus who pulled out a weapon. Our officers did an investigation and are taking it from there,” said Travis Young, a spokesperson for Dayton ISD.
The District’s law enforcement personnel from Harris County Pct. 3 are working with local law enforcement to investigate the incident, Young added.
The person who brandished the weapon has been identified as a female student from Dayton High School.
“We take student and staff safety very seriously. It will always be our number one priority,” Young said. “We had our own officers on our campuses throughout the day. We also partnered with Dayton Police Department to increase visibility on campuses.”
Across other campuses in Liberty County, with the exception of Hull-Daisetta and Devers ISDs, which were already out for the holiday break, there was a heightened presence of law enforcement provided by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.
“The sheriff had us going around and walking through schools in Liberty, Hardin, Cleveland and Tarkington ISDs. We were showing our presence. It was meant to be a deterrent, just a precaution,” said Cpl. Brad Taylor, who visited some of the campuses on Friday.
As it turned out, there was no actual threat to any school district in the county, Taylor said.
“It was just across social media. I am sure every school in the nation was doing what we were doing,” he said. “The teachers were aware of the social media threat so they were happy to see us out and about. We take threats like this seriously even if they turn out to be a prank. We are always going to take it seriously because we want our kids and teachers to be safe. We want everyone to feel safe.”
TikTok, through its Twitter page, said it has been unable to verify the threats, suggesting that the media reports about the alleged threat have “been widespread and based on rumors rather than facts.”
“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 tweet reads. “We’ve exhaustively searched for content that promotes violence at schools today, but have still found nothing. What we find are videos discussing this rumor and warning others to stay safe. Local authorities, the FBI, and DHS have confirmed there’s no credible threat, so we’re working to remove alarmist warnings that violate our misinformation policy. If we did find promotion of violence on our platform, we’d remove and report it to law enforcement.”