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‘Desperate for attention’ teens warned against TikTok school challenges

Law enforcement agencies are warning about destructive new challenges on the horizon.
Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 8:46 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - Schools across Ohio are preparing for illegal and dangerous TikTok challenges throughout the year.

The Ohio School Safety Center issued a warning to schools and educators about a challenge for October called “slap a teacher.”

“It’s very intimidating for some teachers,” said forensic psychologist Dr. Ed Connor. “They have a very challenging job to begin with, and then to have to be cognizant of the possibility of being physically assaulted just makes their jobs even more complex.”

In September, the “devious licks” had students destroying bathrooms and stealing school property. Eight students in Boone County were cited on Sept. 18 in connection with the challenge.

Conner says the challenges are appealing to teenagers because they lack impulse control.

“Their brain isn’t fully developed,” he said. “They’re going to be more likely to act out at any given moment. [...] The more competitive they are for likes and followers, the more absurd some of the challenges become.”

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office is out with a list of challenges it says are on the horizon.

Parents in Butler County recently received a letter from school superintendents proactively asking them to monitor their children’s social media accounts and talk to them about how to responsibly use the websites.

Connor says it’s important for students to realize there are consequences both in and out of the classroom.

“If you go for a job interview someday, and they find this, you probably won’t get hired because if you have such poor judgment, or if you lack that kind of impulse control, or if you’re so desperate for attention that you would engage in such inappropriate, aggressive harmful behavior, that’s probably not somebody they’re going to hire,” Connor said.

Conner explains the social isolation many experienced during the pandemic could be playing a part in the destructive behavior. He believes changes in habits need to start at home.

“Communication I think is going to be key, for all parties to come together to the table, and let’s talk about why this is becoming so absurd,” he said.

Students could face charges for partaking in illegal TikTok challenges, according to several law enforcement agencies.

TikTok took steps to ban the viral challenges, but users have found ways around them.

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