TikTok Challenge

Mass. School Officials Report Assault, Purportedly Part of TikTok ‘Slap a Teacher' Dare

While Braintree Public Schools' superintendent didn't share details about the incident, three high school students said it happened at East Middle School

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A student assaulted a Braintree Public Schools employee on Thursday, officials said, calling it a part of the purported "slap a teacher" TikTok challenge that's sounding alarm bells among educators nationwide.

The officials didn't say what school the incident took place at or give any details about what allegedly happened, and it wasn't immediately clear if the incident was recorded -- so-called challenges on TikTok involve users sharing a video on the social network in which they've taken part in a trend.

Braintree's interim superintendent, Jim Lee, noted in announcing "our first case" of the "slap a teacher" challenge that assault carries the risk of expulsion and legal ramifications.

"Please be aware that physically assaulting any staff member in the Braintree schools will immediately result in notification of the Braintree Police Department and significant school-based discipline, up to and including expulsion. The potential legal charges range from assault to indecent assault & battery," he said in a message to the school community.

While Lee didn't share details about the incident, three high school students said it happened at East Middle School and that teachers discussed it in class Thursday.

Officials across the country have been warning about the "slap a teacher" challenge, though evidence it's widespread has been scant.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong wrote a letter to TikTok's CEO on Monday saying that reports of the potentially harmful challenge make it "clear that TikTok is unable to control the spread of harmful content."

TikTok said in a statement Thursday that it hasn't found "slap a teacher" content on its platform, but that any such videos will be removed.

"This alleged 'challenge' would violate our policies and we would aggressively remove such content, but the reality is that we have not found related content on our platform, and most people appear to be learning about the offline dare from sources other than TikTok," a representative has said.

An Insider review of "slap a teacher"-related videos on TikTok published Wednesday found they were mostly from teachers warning about it.

As Lee and Tong both noted, reports of the "slap a teacher" challenge come on the heels of another school-based challenge, called "devious licks," in which students steal things from their schools, from hand sanitizers to more serious items like fire extinguishers and fire alarms, then posting about it on the popular social media app.

Lee said Thursday that local incidents of that challenge have been handled by school administrators with parents and students.

Students in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, have been disciplined for the "devious licks" challenge as well, residents previously told NBC10 Boston.

A representative for TikTok said it's removing "devious licks" content, and that the company does "not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities."

A destructive social media challenge is quickly growing in popularity with more than 94,000 videos posted in Connecticut in the last few months, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said.

Lee noted that students who can't navigate the social media often end up facing social and legal consequences, and urged parents to talk to their children about it.

"Although social media offers the potential of a more inter-connected world, the frequent appeal to abhorrent behaviors and debased language across these various platforms are a minefield for students," he wrote.

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