School Climate & Safety

‘Devious Lick’ TikTok Trend Creates Chaos in Schools Nationwide

By Simone Jasper, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) — September 16, 2021 2 min read
At the new Rising Hill Elementary School in Kansas City, Mo., gender neutral student bathrooms have a common sink area for washing and individual, locking, toilet stalls that can be used by boys or girls. Principal Kate Place gave a tour of the facilities on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018. The school is in the North Kansas City school district.
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School bathrooms have been found in ruins — and district leaders are blaming a new TikTok trend.

Shattered mirrors, missing soap dispensers, and broken toilets recently have been linked to the “devious lick” challenge, in which social media users share videos of damage done to schools.

In North Carolina, Wakefield Middle School is creating a new bathroom schedule after principal Alison Cleveland said vandalism included “breaking toilets and pulling sinks off the walls, removing the soap from the dispensers and spraying it on the floors and walls, and breaking the water vents and pipes, causing leaks,” The News & Observer reported.

The trend even prompted Olathe North High School in Kansas to close some of its restrooms, principal Jason Herman told families.

“They see this as a joke,” Herman said, according to The Kansas City Star. “I do not. Our custodians work too hard every single day to put up with this nonsense.”

Districts are calling for the trend to stop as footage of vandalism is being posted on TikTok, a short-video platform popular with younger people.

In response to a request for comment, a TikTok spokesperson on Wednesday told McClatchy News: “We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.”

But the trend already has led to reports of incidents in multiple states, including Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas — leading districts nationwide to warn that the students responsible for the damage could be punished.

In Florida, Lawton Chiles Middle School said it was taking vandalism seriously after finding red Kool-Aid splattered across restrooms, trash cans in toilets, and soap dispensers removed from walls.

“If a student is caught participating in one of these challenges, they will be suspended out of school and run the risk of being removed from sports and clubs, alternatively placed or turned over to law enforcement,” the school wrote Tuesday on Facebook. “Their families will be paying restitution for the damage caused by their student.”

Officials have issued a similar warning in Texas, where North East Independent School District spokesperson Aubrey Mika Chancellor told KSAT “soap and paper towel dispensers have been ripped off the walls in restrooms, mirrors have been ripped down as well and light fixtures have been broken.”

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In Pennsylvania, Superintendent Marybeth Torchia said some Boyertown Area School District students are facing criminal charges after destruction in school bathrooms, WPVI reported.

Though some “devious licks” videos have garnered thousands of views, not all students are amused.

“I just think that it’s a little bit ridiculous,” Raegan Heffelfinger, a Florida high school student, told WBBH. “When you have to go all the way around to a different bathroom it just makes it a little bit harder on you.”

It’s not the first time a TikTok trend has been a cause for concern.

Recently, videos showing people eating copious amounts of frozen honey had some experts worried that too much of the sweetener could lead to diarrhea.

Also last month, clips surfaced of people walking on plastic containers in the so-called “milk crate challenge,” leading to concerns about serious injuries, McClatchy News reported.

Copyright (c) 2021, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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