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Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent Calvin Watts is warning parents about a new social media challenge calling on students to hit their teachers “on the backside.”

Watts sent a letter to parents on Monday night warning about TikTok challenges, such as the “Devious Licks” challenge that encouraged students to steal things from their schools in September. He highlighted a new challenge going around on the social media platform that calls on students to engage in behavior that Watts warned could result in sexual assault charges.

“In October, a new social media challenge has emerged, calling for students to slap a teacher on the backside,” Watts said in the letter. “Let me be very clear. Each and every person, especially each teacher, deserves our utmost respect and this behavior will not be tolerated.

“Encouraging others to strike another person is not funny. It is not appropriate to behave in this manner toward anyone, much less a teacher. In fact, it is sexual assault and will be treated as such in our school district.”

The TikTok challenges that have emerged during the current school year have not avoided Gwinnett County Public Schools. Watts said there were several GCPS students who engaged in the “Devious Licks” challenge last month.

Students who stole items from their schools as part of that challenge received disciplinary action, as well as criminal charges in at least some cases.

Watts is asking parents to talk to their children about the dangers of participating in the TikTok challenges. He also encouraged families to reach out to their schools if they need additional information about the challenges.

“One of the most important actions we can take as adults is to help our young people develop their instincts — instincts that can serve them well in the real world and in the online world,” Watts said. “Please continue to help your children understand that, while social media can help them to feel connected, not all information or people on social media can be trusted.

“Explain to them that they are responsible for their own words and actions on social media and that many of those actions may follow them for the remainder of their educational and professional careers. And, as a result, they need to realize that some behaviors encouraged on social media can get them into trouble at home, at school and even with the police.”

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