Broward County Public Schools says it’s time to reclaim social media.
Fed up with the negativity, especially with TikTok challenges urging kids to commit crimes in school, the school district kicked off an effort to turn it around with peace and kindness.
It started with what seemed like a pep rally of positivity at Flanagan High School Monday morning, with the band playing, cheerleaders cheering, and various student groups doing art projects around the themes of spreading kindness and taking pride in their school.
“For this TikTok challenge, are you up for it?” said interim superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright to the crowd of students.
There were also a series of similar events going on at Silver Trail Middle School. It’s a celebration of school spirit with an emphasis on making the school experience welcoming for every student, and that includes cyberspace.
“What are ways in which to engage our students but in a positive way, and what are ways in which we can empower students to have a voice and make a difference at their schools?” Cartwright said.
The activities range from kids writing down what positive change they’d like to see in the world to kids actually making TikTok videos with a positive theme.
“Of course, thinking of ideas right now!” laughed Flanagan student Halle Dolce. “To bring a positive light to social media is something that everyone can do and everyone can enjoy.”
Teachers and students know all about the recent TikTok challenges involving vandalism and violence. They’re trying to take that platform back.
“Especially with everything going on, taking, diverting the attention away from that and bringing it this wonderful program about supporting kindness,” said Tyler Smith, an eighth-grader at Silver Trail Middle.
Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco attended the events Monday. I asked her in light of the TikTok threats against teachers, how important is this effort by the district?
“This is extremely important because somewhere, there’s been a misunderstanding, a message bringing to our students, violence and destruction is OK, and we need to take it back,” Fusco said.
“It takes much more courage and strength to be a loving, caring person than it does to vandalize a bathroom,” said Silver Trail principal Stephen Frazier, speaking in the school’s morning announcements.
The district has issued its own challenge: use the hashtag #SchoolPrideAndPeace to create positive TikTok videos.
“Because in the end, we’re not gonna get rid of social media, so I feel like it’s really important that we can emphasize and teach children how to use it in a positive way,” Frazier said.
That’s a tune everyone can sing.