TikTok Trend Leads to Absentee Jump

Absence Rate Doubles after Nationwide “Threat”


Screenshot by Cooper Campbell

Reactions to the threat against schools “across the US, even elementary” trended heavily on TikTok Thursday and Friday.

Tik Tok School Threats

Students were greeted with an increased police presence and fewer kids in the halls on Friday, Dec. 17 because of a TikTok “challenge” that threatened violence in schools across the country.

Schools across the US, including Triton and area law enforcement, took the threats seriously. An email was sent to parents and community members by Triton Superintendent Brian Forget who explained the threat was against “every school in the USA, even elementary.”

“While we do not believe the threat to be credible, there will be an increased police presence at our schools on Friday as an added precaution,” Forget said in the email. “Students and staff will not see an alarming emergency response, but an added presence of officers outside the schools to help instill confidence in our collective commitment to everyone’s safety.”

A total of 136 high school students had been marked absent or were dismissed before third period on Friday, according to the school’s daily attendance report. The number represents approximately 21 percent of the student population. In comparison, 12.7 percent of students were absent or dismissed by the same time Thursday.

Three police cars were in front of the school at the beginning of the school day, but by 9:45, only School Resource Officer John Lucey´s car remained.

“This is usually attention-seeking behavior,” Lucey explained when discussing the threats. “Statistics show that usually threats like this don’t equate to violent events.”

The SRO continued that companies like Facebook and Instagram are usually more cooperative with law enforcement about threats like this, and that companies like Tik-Tok and Snapchat are more secretive with their information, and because they are, it’s harder to bring someone to justice.

Triton history teacher Mr. Chad Richard said he found out about the threat from both Forget’s email as well as his children’s school.

“It’s depressing,” said Richard. “Mass shootings are way more common than they used to be.”

Usually World Language teacher Ms. Jennifer Scott likes to keep her classroom door open but on Friday she kept it shut and locked. When asked about all the student absences today Scott said, “I respect their personal decision to stay home today if they didn’t feel comfortable coming in.” 

Science teacher Dr. Adam Lothrop said he feels safe at school today and he trusts the school is doing everything they can to keep us safe. Lothrop said, “When I was taking attendance this morning I was shocked and then I remembered what today was.”

Most students who the Triton Voice interviewed had not heard about the TikTok threats until Forget’s email.

“I didn’t even see anything about it on TikTok until after they emailed us. I then looked up “December 17th” on TikTok and there (were) a bunch of videos warning students not to go to school on Friday,” said Junior Natalie Indingaro.

“I didn’t know about the whole thing until the school emailed us,” said junior Sammy Kelly. “Seeing all the cops here while driving into school definitely put me on edge” 

Freshmen Charlie Mollineaux saw it on TikTok didn’t think it was an actual threat. He said he thinks it’s a little ridiculous that someone threatened every school in the country. He said he was not really scared because it did not seem believable.

Senior Evan Piscitelli said he thinks it is someone trying to make an excuse to get out of school. “It’s a little bit sad that we had to tighten security because it is possible that it could happen, but I don’t think it’s a real threat,” he said.