PENNSAUKEN, N.J. (CBS) — Schools in the tri-state area were on high alert Friday after a dangerous TikTok trend encouraged students to post threats of school violence.
While Pennsauken police found no credible threats at the high school or in the district, many parents weren’t take any chances Friday, opting to keep their students home from school.READ MORE: Phillies' Bryce Harper Out Indefinitely With Broken Thumb After Being Hit By Pitch In 4-2 Win Over Padres
“50% of our high school students are absent and 50% of our middle school students are absent today,” Pennsauken Superintendent Dr. Ronnie Tarchichi said.
Tarchichi warned parents in a letter to have a “heightened sense of awareness” following a viral TikTok trend encouraged students to make threats of school shootings.
“We treat it with the utmost seriousness,” Tarchichi said.
Pennsauken, like many districts, increased patrols Friday. They said those extra patrols will stay in place through Christmas and that unfortunately, these alerts are happening more frequently.
“At least once a month,” Tarchichi said.
“I hope it’s not our new normal,” said Laurie Doran, the acting director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.READ MORE: Philadelphia Weather: Tracking Possible Showers And Storms For The Fourth Of July Weekend
While New Jersey’s Homeland Security head says cyber teams were first alerted to this threat earlier this week …
“Right now, at this point, we don’t have any information that’s indicating that this a credible threat,” Doran said.
TikTok says it is looking into these threats, denying claims it started or spread on its platform, but the damage may already be done for these fourth graders.
“I heard teenagers were threatened schools to come in and attack and shoot,” Abby, a fourth-grade student, said.
“I felt scared,” said Grace, another fourth grader.
“My mom and my dad had a talk with me about and told me that it’s going to be OK, just go to school and think of happy stuff and stuff like that,” fourth-grader Marlee said.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Police Find Man's Body Burned, Possibly Shot In East Mount Airy
Anyone caught threatening a school or any student could face not only suspension but also criminal charges.