The only catch is that nobody has actually seen any proof that the “Slap a Teacher” challenge is real.
The California Teachers Association (CTA) issued a warning to its members on Tuesday that consisted of just two words: “Beware educators.” In a statement posted to the CTA website, President E. Toby Boyd detailed the danger.
Students are being encouraged to physically assault (‘slap’) teachers in a viral social media “challenge.”
Boyd stated, “slapping a teacher is assault and battery whether or not it causes injury and is entirely unacceptable” and “recording in a classroom or on other school property without authorization is prohibited.”
According to the CTA, the same persons behind the viral “Devious Licks” challenge last month, in which kids stole or destroyed school property, are also behind the “Slap a Teacher” competition.
Connecticut Attorney General Willian Tong also mentioned the “Devious Licks” campaign in a letter he sent to the CEO of TikTok.
Tong warned in his letter that the new “Slap a Teacher” challenge could put teachers in danger, citing the example of vandalism in Connecticut that forced the closure of schools.
I want TikTok to come to Connecticut, speak with teachers and parents, and make changes to prevent this kind of irresponsible stuff from being uploaded.
TikTok did indeed have a “Devious Licks” task, however, there is zero proof that a “Slap a Teacher” challenge exists.
Abbie Richards, a misinformation researcher who works on TikTok, tweeted on Tuesday night, “As far as I’m aware, not a single report has really provided evidence of an initial threat.” When I looked into it, I couldn’t find a single TikTok that supported this type of content.
Richards further, says that “all evidence indicates this is a hoax converted into reality” by the reactions of local news and school districts to unsubstantiated rumors.
The CTA provided evidence from a case in South Carolina, where it claimed a single student had carried out the challenge.
The Lancaster School District in South Carolina is where the incident purportedly occurred. Director of transportation and safety Bryan Vaughn released a statement on Facebook last Friday, saying that a student had attacked a teacher as part of the TikTok craze.
Vaughn shared that a sad incident occurred where an elementary school student physically assaulted a teacher by hitting her in the back of the head.
However, this assertion has many flaws. The first is that most primary school pupils aren’t old enough to sign up for TikTok the minimum age for creating an account is 13.
Second, “filming is a condition for a TikTok challenge,” as Richards puts it, yet it was never mentioned that the assault in issue had been videotaped and uploaded to the platform.
In Florida, pupils were cautioned by Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho that the Miami-Dade County Public School district “has zero-tolerance for such behavior and would investigate and punish to the full extent of the law.”
A single internet document listing numerous school TikTok challenges for each month beginning with the “Devious Licks” competition in September appears to be the source of the accusations regarding the “Slap a Teacher” challenge. There is, however, zero proof that the content of this list is genuine or indicative of any kind of TikTok fad.
Numerous media sites have run believable stories on the “trend,” claiming the warnings from officials as evidence that kids are hitting teachers and publishing recordings of it online.
Several educators have recorded recordings on the video-sharing app itself, urging their students to refrain from trying anything unsafe.
It’s not evidenced that a TikTok trend is true, but there are no videos showing kids really striking their teachers. That, Richards added, is just confirmation bias.
A lack of familiarity with how TikTok functions and viral trends spread on the platform seems to be at least part of the issue. One person’s list of potential trends is not enough to make their actual ones.
“TikTok faces genuine dangers; I know because I research this kind of thing for a living. “But this threat does not appear to be coming from teenagers,” Richards wrote on Twitter.
It appears that many mature people are unaware of what a TikTok challenge is or how it is conducted. Plus, they didn’t bother to ask anyone for clarification.
This is reminiscent of an April hoax in which men shared films encouraging others to celebrate “National Rape Day” on April 24, despite there being no evidence to substantiate the claims that this date had been officially designated as such.
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