STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Do "slap a teacher" challenge videos exist on TikTok? No, that's not true: Lead Stories has done an extensive search of TikTok and can find no proof that there are videos of students recording themselves slapping a teacher, then posting it on the site as of October 8, 2021. While there have been several school districts that claim students have been participating in the "slap a teacher" challenge, they have offered no evidence that students saw the videos on TikTok, and then made their own versions. The social media company denies that there have been such videos posted.
#slapateacherchallenge I have been getting multiple reports of this happening around the country. Talk to your kids, their friends, and anyone that will listen. A few minutes of TikTok fame (they will pull the video quickly) is not worth the possible lifetime of consequences.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Oct 8 22:48:23 2021 UTC)
The Facebook post links to a local news outlet with the headline, "'Slap a teacher' TikTok challenge could lead to student expulsion, officials say." Multiple local news outlets have reported that students have been caught participating in this challenge, but there is no proof of such videos on TikTok. A list of "challenges" by month began circulating at the beginning of the school year. The "devious licks challenge" was an actual thing on TikTok, with students getting in trouble for allegedly destroying school property.
Several other news articles and social media posts reference a list of challenges supposedly making the rounds on TikTok. The oldest version of that list Lead Stories could find on Facebook (using CrowdTangle) appears to have been posted on September 24, 2021 by the same Facebook page ("Officer Gomez") and it read:
Upcoming TikTok Challenges:
As you know there were many school bathrooms damaged with September's TikTok challenge. Here is one version of the upcoming challenges for TikTok users. Some of these challenges can be life changing if done to the wrong person or place. Talk to your kids about these challenges and their consequences.
August - Sleep in and be late
September - Mess up a toilet/vandalize the restroom at school
October - Smack a staff member on the backside
November - Kiss your friend's girlfriend at school
December - "Deck the halls and show your b**** " in school halls. (Thinking this means boobs or butt)
January - Jab a breast
February - Mess up school signs
March - Make a mess in the courtyard or cafeteria
April - Grab some "eggs" ( This is another theft challenge)
May - Ditch Day
June - Flip off the front office
July - Spray a neighbor fence (Maybe they meant face?)
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Sat Oct 9 12:34:59 2021 UTC)
Lead Stories has found no evidence of videos that show the "slap a teacher" challenge or mentions promoting the list above on the TikTok service. We have searched hashtags and individual words for "slap a teacher," which yielded no videos showing a student actually hitting a teacher. TikTok has blocked the #slapateacher and #slapateacherchallenge hashtags and a search on the site only results in videos that seem to be reactions to the reports that the challenge is happening or old videos that appear to be a joke.
As far as I'm aware, not a single story has actually includes evidence of an initial threat. And when I looked into this, I couldn't find a single TikTok actually endorsing this behavior.-- Abbie Richards (@abbieasr) October 6, 2021
Again. I have seen ZERO VIRAL VIDEOS ENDORSING THIS 'CHALLENGE.'
A reddit post titled, "Is there really an October Tiktok challenge to slap a teacher?" also claims that the list of monthly challenges appears to be made up and that there are no instances of videos showing this happening have appeared on TikTok:
"Is this true?"... Well, yes and no.
On September 22, a person on facebook whose page is "Officer Gomez" (facebook.com/deputygomez) posted a calendar of "Upcoming TikTok challenges." This poster gave no source for the information, but claims they are a school resource officer. According to the post they made, October 2021 is "smack a staff member on the backside".
But we are now in a chicken and egg situation. This calendar is total crap, created by an adult who wants to get clicks and seem like they are in the know about kids these days. I can't find a source for this calendar except this "Officer Gomez" page. Unfortunately, after the "devious licks" challenge became a thing, many school districts are publicizing that October is smack a staff member time while trying to warn kids not to. This will ultimately inspire some students to do this simply because there has been such a big deal made about it.
A TikTok spokesperson shared a statement with Lead Stories via email on October 8, 2021. They noted "as explained in our Community Guidelines, content that promotes dangerous or illegal activities is not allowed on TikTok and will be removed:
This alleged 'challenge' would violate our policies and we would aggressively remove such content, but the reality is that we have not found related content on our platform, and most people appear to be learning about the offline dare from sources other than TikTok.
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. Learn more about practicing responsible behavior here: https://t.co/68VWesl9rf-- TikTokComms (@TikTokComms) October 6, 2021
Teachers' unions, including the California Teachers Association (CTA), have warned about the consequences a student would incur if they did slap a teacher but noted that this had not taken place in California and did not offer any proof that they had viewed any videos that showed such conduct, according to a local Los Angeles news station KCAL:
'Slapping a teacher, regardless of whether it results in injury, is assault and battery and is completely unacceptable and illegal,' CTA's statement said. 'In addition to potentially serious harm to victims, a student perpetrator could face serious consequences, including expulsion or criminal prosecution.'
Multiple outlets cite a report out of the Lancaster School District in South Carolina where a child was reprimanded after hitting a teacher:
According to officials, the student hit a teacher in the back of her head as part of a new TikTok challenge called 'The Slap a Teacher Challenge.' It dares kids to hit a teacher and post the video online.
The story offered no proof that the student had seen a video on TikTok or posted a video of themselves hitting their teacher on TikTok. The report noted, "Officials are still investigating whether this particular incident was posted to TikTok." Lead Stories has reached out to the Lancaster School district for comment and will add their response when we receive it.
Another report originates in Springfield, Missouri, where administrators claimed, according to KY3 News:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield Public School leaders warn about severe punishment after a staff member was slapped as part of a viral TikTok trend.
Lead Stories spoke with a representative from the Springfield School District via telephone on October 7, 2021 who confirmed they "did have an incident" at one of their schools and claimed it was part of the "slap a teacher" challenge, but said they did not know if the student put the video on TikTok or if they had seen a video on TikTok prior to allegedly hitting a teacher.
Lead Stories has reached out to Gomez and will update the story if he responds.
If you have seen anyone actually promoting the challenge on TikTok, please contact [email protected] and we will update this story.
(Editors' Note: TikTok is a client of Lead Stories. On our About page, you will find the following information: "Since April 2020 we also provide fact checking related advice and services to ByteDance, the company running TikTok.")
2021-10-09T12:57:55Z 2021-10-09T12:57:55ZAdded initial Officer Gomez post, removed broken link.