Wis. schools are safe after TikTok threat, DOJ says

State official adds, “This is not a victimless crime.”
Multiple area school districts are warning about a social media challenge that promotes violence at schools across the country on Friday, Dec. 17.
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 9:39 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A state official confirmed that no schools in Wisconsin came under attack after a social media challenge put Friday on alert for parents, school administrators and law enforcement around the nation.

The trend on TikTok promoted violence or threats of violence in schools on Friday, Dec. 17. While officials from multiple districts in southern Wisconsin noted the threat was not credible at the time, they notified parents Thursday of the plan to increase police presence.

“This is not a victimless crime,” Kristen Devitt, who leads the Office of School Safety at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said Friday late afternoon. “Even though there was no attack that came out of it, there are certainly victims that are out there because of that level of panic and concern and fear.”

She said the public’s reaction to the challenge pointed to the fact that school attacks do happen.

“Some people might look at something and not take it seriously, and that’s their decision. Some people may take something very seriously or get really upset and scared about it. Some of that is really framed by prior experiences,” Devitt said.

Platteville schools were closed Friday “out of an abundance of caution,” after an incident at the high school Thursday coupled with the TikTok trend. In an update, officials said schools were considered safe after the threat was deemed no longer credible.

Devitt warned families not to become complacent to potential threats in the future. She said she also heeded the advice as she monitored schools.

“I didn’t come into this having an expectation of what the outcome would be because that introduces bias into the process, and [you think], ‘Oh, it’s just another TikTok,’” she said.

According to Devitt, state officials are working with national partners to track down the origin of the threat.

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