Port Angeles, Sequim school districts warn of social media challenges

Vandalism, other acts encouraged on apps

Secondary schools in Port Angeles and Sequim saw minor vandalism in September following a monthly challenge list on social media encouraging students to record acts of vandalism, the districts reported.

Last week brought a new challenge.

Both districts sent letters home to parents saying an October challenge to “slap a teacher” had gained attention nationwide.

“While we believe none of our students would participate in this challenge, we wanted people to be aware that any student who physically assaults a staff member will be held responsible legally,” said Sequim School District interim superintendent Jane Pryne.

“We have Zero Tolerance for any assault on any staff member.”

A notice sent out by Carmen Geyer, communications and community relations coordinator for Port Angeles School District, said: “It appears people are promoting monthly challenges daring students to engage in illegal activities, including property destruction, inappropriately touching others, harming others and public indecency.

“The latest challenge encourages students to slap a staff member. This type of behavior is considered assault and will not be tolerated in our school system.”

Both Geyer and Pryne have said neither district has had any incidences of the October challenge.

“We had vandalism on a very small scale at both our secondary schools,” Pryne said. “Mainly, it was soap dispensers that were torn down, spreading soap on surfaces and plugging up toilets.”

At the middle school, Pryne said, a few students were “dealt with on an individual basis with personnel trained in Restorative Justice practices, and those students returned the items undamaged back to the school.”

At the high school, a few students “were dealt with individually through administrative channels,” she said.

Students who damaged school property are being asked to pay for repairs, Pryne added.

“Finally, through their Homeroom, the discussion around this type of behavior not being tolerated, and utilizing Character Strong curriculum is setting a path forward for students to positively interact with staff and students,” she said.

Geyer said PASD had some incidences of vandalism in secondary schools.

The October challenge to “slap a teacher” has seen a few recorded incidents reported nationwide but none in Washington state. More monthly challenges included indecent exposure, assault, theft and further vandalism.

Nationwide, several news reports state law enforcement and school district officials attribute the challenges being found on TikTok, a short-form video social network.

However, TikTok’s Twitter account stated on Oct. 6, “The rumored ‘slap a teacher’ dare is an insult to educators everywhere. And while this is not a trend on TikTok, if at any point it shows up, content will be removed.”

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