BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD)- There have been more than a dozen missing teenager cases reported to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office this month. According to BCSO, 13 runaways have been reported so far in August. Of those 13, only four are still outstanding.
Now, deputies searching for a reason behind the disappearances are warning parents about a ‘challenge’ on the social media app, TikTok, that could be associated. The ‘challenge’ teaches teenagers how to run away from home, without getting caught.
“It tells the kids run away from home and you get the most points for how many times your missing poster has been shared,” Capt. Michael Crumley said. While law enforcement has not been able to connect these specific cases to the challenge,’ they say parents need to be aware of what their children are viewing online. “I just want to, first of all, say we don’t have any reason to believe at this point that the TikTok video phenomenon is involved with any of our runaway cases,” Crumley said.
A further complication for deputies is the inability to have the videos removed, a process made even more difficult with TikTok as it is a Chinese company operating largely outside the United States. “Unfortunately, there’s no way that we can get those videos off of those social media platforms,” Crumley said. The warnings are not just for parents, though. Crumley also wants teenagers to know that human traffickers often target runaways.
“In many cases, try to convince those teenagers that your parents don’t really care about you I do, give them gifts, gain their confidence, and then eventually in time they are trafficked away for various purposes,” he said.
Anyone with information on missing teens in Berkeley County is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.