Schools are bracing and warning parents about the latest online trend, the "Slap a Teacher" TikTok challenge, which encourages kids to slap their teacher while capturing everything on camera.
The latest TikTok trend was apparently launched this October after September's "Devious Lick" TikTok challenge, where kids have vandalized and stolen school property for the viral views on the social media platform.
In a statement to parents, the Nebraska State Education Association said there would be zero tolerance for kids who participate in the game, adding that the "Slap a Teacher" TikTok challenge may be treated as criminal behavior. School officials asked the parents to talk to their children because "threatening and engaging in physical harm is not a joke," and their offense could be regarded as an assault.
The Teachers Association of Lee County in Florida has also issued a statement saying that students caught doing the challenge will face a felony charge from the police and disciplinary action from the school. The association reminded the community that four students had been arrested for the "Devious Lick" TikTok challenge last month.
Schools in Ohio, Connecticut, and Texas have issued similar calls, asking parents to help them with proactive measures to prevent their kids from incurring a permanent police record. Teachers who have TikTok accounts have been voicing their concerns as well, reiterating that these challenges could lead to their expulsion from the school or a possible jail time.
More TikTok Challenges Ahead
According to Distractify, TikTok users have come up with a list of challenges for students for the whole school year. After Devious Lick and Slap a Teacher, November's challenge is "Kiss Your Friend's Girlfriend," and December's challenge involves flashing or exposing themselves in the school hallway.
Other challenges include messing up the school signs, the cafeteria, and the courtyard from February to March in 2022 with different tactics, such as spray painting. May's challenge is all about ditching school, while June's challenge entails a flip-off (hold up a finger) at the front of the principal's office. Two more challenges encourage stealing ("Grab Some Eggz") and assault ("Jab a Breast").
A spokesperson for TikTok said that they expect the users to create a safe community and become responsible members of the platform. User accounts encouraging these behaviors have been blocked, and videos associated with these trends have been taken down. Hashtags related to the challenges are also directed to the platform's Community Guidelines; however, some posts remain as students try various ways to get past the system.
However, some TikTok users aren't biting and are encouraging their followers to be more respectful of the school staff.
Why Kids Join TikTok Challenges
Psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge said that TikTok challenges drive social engagement and participation. Connecting to one another, especially in this period of isolation and social distancing, has been the upside of any TikTok activity, especially for harmless and entertaining challenges.
The challenges provide a sense of belonging and acceptance. However, the popularity triggered by these challenges drives the kids to use TikTok for attention or likes. Rutledge said that the "adolescent brain is vulnerable" to the appeal of these challenges because kids still do not have the maturity to discern the consequences of their actions.
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