As dust settles, Anchorage schools concerned about continuing TikTok challenges

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 6:54 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District reports a wave of vandalism inspired by a TikTok challenge seems to have ended, but they’re worried more could be on the way.

According to the district, the September challenge to vandalize school bathrooms resulted in more than 80 incidents at more than 20 schools, resulting in more than $10,000 in damages.

“We did truly see a very large burst in a very short time,” said Activities and Student Services Principal Holly Zumbro. “And fortunately, it has simmered down quite a bit.”

Zumbro is concerned about a new list of challenges obtained from social media. There’s one for every month of the year.

“There’s nothing here that’s ever going to be encouraged or be deemed as appropriate,” she said, looking at the list.

November is “kiss someone else’s girl,” which Zumbro termed “totally not appropriate.”

October encourages students to “slap a teacher or staff member,” something Zumbro noted could result in assault charges.

So far, the district has not had any reports of staff members being slapped, but Lt. Scott Roberts, commander of the School Resource Officer Unit, said they are keeping a close eye on what’s going on in local schools, including reviewing school security video.

He said between one and five students were charged with school vandalism in the recent challenge, but for others, it’s become a teachable moment.

“We will talk with the students and kind of give them the consequences of what could happen if charges are filed against a student or causing damage to a school,” he said.

They’re also encouraging parents to talk with their children about the challenges and to report any vandalism they see.

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