NEW BRITAIN, CT (WFSB) - School officials in New Britain warned parents about a new social media "challenge" that involves students slapping teachers.
The challenge, according to them, is a monthly occurrence on the TikTok app. While the nature of the challenge changes, it's part of the same one that involved vandalizing school property.
School officials addressed it during a virtual town hall Wednesday night that was streamed on the district's Facebook page.
They encouraged families that logged on to continue ongoing dialogue with their teenagers.
"It is really challenging as parents to try and be current, yet try and help our young not follow the crowd on the TikTok challenge," said superintendent Nancy Sarra. "We're pretty concerned over the next several months of the different challenges that TikTok is presenting.
Channel 3 learned that a message was sent home to families to let them know that students could face possible suspension or expulsion if they participate in the challenge:
It has been brought to our attention that the TikTok Challenge we dealt with last month is potentially not over. According to social media outlets, this is a monthly challenge, and next month the challenge includes inappropriate contact with a teacher. This email is to inform you that New Britain High School will not tolerate this behavior, and any student involved in this challenge will be assigned the appropriate consequence leading up to and not excluding expulsion and an arrest.
Please, keep the lines of communication open with your child and contact your child's Associate Principal if you have any questions or concerns.
"We take this very seriously," Sarra said. "This is not something that we're going to condone at all."
Officials did not mention if any teachers were victims yet.
They discussed it around the 36 minute mark of the meeting:
Eyewitness News is working to get more information about how New Britain and other school districts are responding to the challenge.
New Britain High School students will return to the classroom on Thursday despite a district decision that had been made to go remote for the rest of the week.
New Britain officials recently addressed the previous TikTok challenge that involved students vandalizing the high school.
It was part of a nationwide trend that saw damaged bathrooms and locker rooms at schools.
In response, New Britain's school district said it's tracking down students who participate in such challenges and that the consequences could include the scheduling expulsion hearings, suspensions and detentions.
"This is not typical teenage impulsive behavior, there’s some intentionality, there’s planning, there’s preparation," said Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association.
Teachers say they want swift action if any students follow through. Superintendents are trying to get ahead of any problems.
“Those types of behaviors are behaviors that will never be tolerated in East Hartford schools,” said Superintendent Nate Quesnel.
He is among the superintendents who say police will be called if students hit faculty.
If injuries are serious enough, they could be charged with second-degree assault under state law, a class d felony.
A judge could decide to transfer that case to adult court, where they could face one to five years in jail.
It’s not clear who started the list and whether students actually plan to follow through.
“It says it comes from TikTok users, but it could just be one person who made a fun list and it just caught on,” said Quinnipiac University Professor Hilary Fussell Sisco.
In a statement, TikTok said it’s aware of the list “and want to be crystal clear: dangerous challenges and illegal behavior are not allowed on our platform and will be removed. We expect teens to use common courtesy both online and IRL (in real life), and we're committed to helping support messages about being good digital stewards."
Some superintendents are blaming TikTok for letting this trend go viral.