September saw multiple incidents of vandalism in schools around Connecticut attributed to a challenge circulating on TikTok. October’s new, potentially violent challenge is “Slap a Teacher,” and a list of future challenges that are harmful to students and teachers and disruptive to schools is circulating online.
“We want to end this before it begins,” CEA President Kate Dias told Channel 3 during an interview today. “None of us wants to get into a contentious relationship with students and parents. Let’s get in front of this. Let’s come together and talk to students about the disruption it creates to our community, the amount of trust it erodes when we have to start to look over our shoulders. A lot of this is about prevention and having a conversation with students and parents.”
Dias says that teachers choose their profession because they’re committed to educating and caring for other people’s children. “To think that the response to that would be some sort of list that includes assaulting school staff is obviously disappointing.”
Teachers have a lot on their plates returning to a year of full, in-person instruction after a year with many disruptions and interruptions, which makes attempts to disrupt the learning process this year especially disheartening and disappointing.
“This is not the problem we want to be addressing—we want to be focusing on educating students, and on their needs and well-being,” Dias says. “These challenges provide a great deal of stress, not just to the adults, but to the other students in the building. The majority of students we teach do not embrace this. The small number of students who might take part would be engaging is something that is upsetting to many of our kids as well as adults.”
The education community is urging administrators to establish strong discipline policies for any students who participate in the challenges that takes into account the nature of the behavior.
Watch an excerpt from Dias’ interview with Channel 3 below.