Canyons School District is taking a zero-tolerance approach to viral images and school threats circulating on social media as part of a new TikTok trend that’s sweeping the nation.
Though slow to reach Utah, schools throughout the state are starting to see a rise of social media activity where students are threatening harm or violence on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. Organizers of the SafeUT mobile tipline have received more than 100 tips statewide about such hoax threats.
While Canyons District has no reason to believe any of these threats are credible, to err on the side of caution and give peace of mind to students, teachers and parents, CSD is taking precautions to ensure the safety of students. There will be an extra police presence at CSD campuses and administrators and staff will be visible in the hallways to provide additional oversight.
“Student safety is our No. 1 concern, and we appreciate all the students and parents who have brought this issue to our attention,” said CSD Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins in a video address to families. “We would also ask for continued vigilance by parents and encourage all students to say something if they see something. Any Canyons student found to be responsible for perpetuating this disruptive and irresponsible trend will be disciplined and prosecuted to the full extent of CSD policy and the law.”
Dr. Robins is offering $100 of his own money to anyone with information that leads to the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators of the threatening posts.
Dr. Robins asks parents for their help in monitoring students’ social media activity and encouraging good digital citizenship.
“Technology has opened the doors to so much possibility, especially for our students, who have never known life without instant access to information,” he said. “But there can be a dark side to constant connectivity, particularly for teenagers who, more and more, live on social media.”
Some of the biggest challenges faced by Canyons schools this past year have involved social media as schools have dealt with online bullying and harassment. Students and employees have been targeted with hateful, and even libelous, words and images.
“While CSD has blocked social media use in schools, it has not been enough to halt bad online behavior, and at this point, we’re asking for the entire community’s attention to this issue,” Robins said, calling upon parents to redouble efforts to monitor their children’s online activity and upon students to think before sharing something that could be harmful or dangerous.
“I have faith in our community’s willingness to come together to show a firm commitment to digital citizenship and believe our collective online civility will lead to greater in-real-life respect,” Robins said.