186 Supt. Jennifer Gill warns of TikTok "challenges"

Springfield Public Schools urges families to talk about potential consequences

Students engaging in pranks at school is nothing new. But a new trend is apparently encouraging criminal activity. In a letter emailed to parents on Oct. 1, District 186 Supt. Jennifer Gill asked families to urge students not to participate in "challenges" circulating on TikTok that encourage physically hitting teachers and stealing school property.

TikTok is a wildly popular social media platform that allows users to create and share short videos. Recently, schools from all over the country have asked for students to stop recording themselves acting out and posting the evidence to TikTok. The challenges have included "devious licks" – where students steal various school items such as hand sanitizer and soap dispensers. An October challenge reportedly encourages students to slap teachers.

TikTok has condemned the alleged actions of its users. A TikTok spokesperson told CBS 46 in Atlanta, Georgia in response to reporting about the challenges: “We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.”

In the letter from Gill to parents, she said, “We understand that technology and social media are ever changing and can be difficult to monitor and regulate. We are asking for your assistance in discussing the seriousness of these actions and their potential consequences, the importance of making good choices at school, and using technology responsibly.”

Gill said students who participate in the challenges, including those who record the acts, could face discipline, including the potential involvement of law enforcement. "We are partnering with our States Attorney’s office to proactively address these issues so that we can avoid any devastating outcomes," she wrote.

Read the full letter, here.

Contact Rachel Otwell at rotwell@illinoistimes.com.

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