TikTok school shooting challenge sees kids as young as 11 charged over hoax

More than a dozen students have been arrested across the United States after a viral "school shooting challenge" on TikTok sent campuses into high alert.

The sick hoax comes as the FBI continues to investigate last month's Michigan shooting where 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley killed four people and injured several others.

The TikTok challenge reportedly told students to call in a shooting threat to their school on December 17 in a copycat prank.

Schools were forced to cancel Friday classes and increase police presence in the halls.

Districts and public officials stress that no credible threat has been linked to the posts.

TikTok said in a statement that it has conducted a thorough search and found no "evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok".

Prosecutors in four Michigan counties have since filed charges against dozens of young people, some as young as 11, for making threats.

Meanwhile the Lee County Sheriff's Office in Florida has arrested three teenagers for making bomb threats to schools on social media, along with a 16-year-old male who was arrested after being accused of bringing a firearm onto school grounds.

Three 13-year-old males were arrested after allegedly sharing threats on social media in Naugatuck, Connecticut, Palm Coast, Florida and Frederick, Maryland.

A 14-year-old was also arrested for making direct threats in Wyoming and a juvenile in Watsonville, California was arrested for threats made on Instagram that police believe were related to the TikTok trend.

Seven middle schoolers were later arrested by the authorities in Frisco, Texas, followed by another juvenile in South Carolina, and two students in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, all for the threats made on social media.

School officials in states including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York and Pennsylvania increased police presence on-site but ensured parents that there is no credible threat from the trend.

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In a message sent to parents, one school in Takoma Park, Washington said: "There is information circulating that today may be a day of attacks on schools. Administration and DC Police are very aware of this and on close watch."

TikTok took to Twitter to release a statement: "'We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we're working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok.

"We've exhaustively searched for content that promotes violence at schools today, but have still found nothing. What we find are videos discussing this rumour and warning others to stay safe.

"Local authorities, the FBI, and DHS have confirmed there's no credible threat, so we're working to remove alarmist warnings that violate our misinformation policy. If we did find promotion of violence on our platform, we'd remove and report it to law enforcement."

They added: "Media reports have been widespread and based on rumours rather than facts, and we are deeply concerned that the proliferation of local media reports on an alleged trend that has not been found on the platform could end up inspiring real world harm."

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, whose deputies were first on the scene at last month's fatal high school shooting spree, revealed that his office has investigated almost 140 copycat threats over the last two weeks.

He said: "We'd rather check out 1,000 nothings than miss one real deal."

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