Montgomery County, Tennessee – Schools across the country are seeing an increase in worrying student behaviors related to social media, especially the TikTok app. As many CMCSS schools contacted families a few weeks ago, an increase in vandalism and theft in schools and on buses was linked to a TikTok challenge.
Recently, the district has been made aware of other planned challenges that promote crimes such as employee assault, sexual assault, and public nudity.
âThese social media challenges may seem harmless or fun to a teenager, but what parents need to clearly understand is that these thoughtless actions will have serious consequences,â said Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson. âI’ve heard some people say ‘what’s the problem, it’s just a soap dispenser’ or ‘I was just messing around.’ The reality is that damage left to school property and invasion or violation of the person of another student or staff member can easily result in thousands of fines and restitution for parents to pay and a crime for their child. I encourage parents to pay close attention to what their children are doing and to intervene where necessary. We plan to take the most appropriate actions necessary to help resolve this issue and get their attention. ”
In addition to concerns about TikTok challenges, there are other digital dangers such as cyberbullying, child exploitation, sharing of personal information, and offensive content.
âHomeland Security Investigations (HSI) is the primary federal law enforcement agency that investigates crimes involving the exploitation of minors,â said Jerry C. Templet Jr., special agent for Nashville HSI. âOur officers continually work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes and to identify and rescue the victims. While the Internet is a great way to interact with them friends and family, as well as meeting new people, predators know this and actively stalk online dating places such as chat rooms and social media sites. Educating and raising community awareness of the dangers of online activity are extremely important.
Finally, when a threat of violence is brought to our attention, we take it seriously and move forward to take the necessary action. Law enforcement and school officials are working together to investigate. We will be vigilant to find responsible individuals and, as Sheriff Fuson said, “anyone involved will be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
School Resource Officers and CMCSS employees work diligently to keep our schools safe, but the whole community needs to work together to provide a safe educational environment. We ask parents and guardians to please talk to their children about online safety, appropriate behavior and the consequences of criminal behavior and violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
In addition, please talk to your children about the importance of immediately reporting any safety concern to an adult. Whether it’s on social media or at school, if you see or hear something, say something. Please report school violence issues to officials, do not post or repost any rumors or threats on social media.
Thank you for your support.
Here are some Internet safety resources for parents / guardians:
CMCSS Internet Security Site: https://sites.google.com/cmcss.net/cmcss-internet-safety/home
CMCSS Homeland Security Internet Security Overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rkwj8QM304U
CMCSS interview with the Special Agent for Homeland Security: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycu2q3HcceM
Thorn Foundation: https://parents.thorn.org
Child Rescue Coalition: https://childrescuecoalition.org/education/
Child Rescue Coalition Digital Surveillance Software Article: https://childrescuecoalition.org/educations/keeping-kids-safe-online-theres-an-app-for-that-or-5/