Schools across Northern Ireland have been targeted by bogus TikTok accounts in which pupils rate their teachers.
According to police, the videos caused “significant distress” to those who were targeted.
They warned that some of the content was abusive and could be considered a crime under telecommunications misuse or harassment.
According to the NASUWT teachers’ union, a significant number of schools were affected, with some teachers absent as a result.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, Lurgan Junior High School in County Armagh contacted police about the content of one video posted on the app.
According to Justin McCamphill of the union, the trend began after the Halloween school break before picking up steam in recent days.
He stated that parents should be aware of their children’s activities, and that schools and employers should take action due to the “extreme distress” caused in some cases.
“We are urging school principals and governors to work with the PSNI to ensure that this activity is thoroughly investigated,” he said.
“We warn parents and students that they must be aware of the consequences.”
‘Clearly criminal content’
Mr McCamphill went on to say that young people may be competing with one another by making potentially defamatory remarks without considering the stress they are causing.
He stated that the content ranged from mild to extreme, including “clearly criminal content,” but that it was all “uncomfortable for teachers.”
The PSNI confirmed reports of a number of incidents involving fake TikTok accounts for local schools.
According to a spokesman, the accounts then posted images of school staff with inappropriate comments.
“While those involved may not see the harm in their actions, they are causing significant distress to those targeted,” he added.
According to an Education Authority spokeswoman: “We are aware of this disturbing online trend.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and, as needed, provide relevant support and guidance.”
According to a TikTok spokesperson: “Our community guidelines state unequivocally that we do not allow accounts that falsely impersonate people, nor do we tolerate content that contains bullying or harassment, statements that target an individual, or hateful speech or behaviour.
“Any content that violates these guidelines is removed.”
According to a spokesperson for the Department of Education: “The minister places a high value on safeguarding and child protection.
“The Safer Schools NI app, which was launched today, is yet another example of how important it is for teachers, parents/caregivers, children, and young people to have access to proper safeguarding resources.
“The app supplements the existing safeguarding and child protection support provided to schools by providing up-to-date advice and support on current issues from safeguarding experts.”