Last week, the “devious licks” challenge hit TikTok, and swept through North Texas. The #deviouslickschallenge encourages students to steal items from school grounds, aka the lick, or vandalize school property and either record the act or show off the stolen goods on TikTok. All for the gloating title of ... devious.
The craze originated on TikTok on Sept. 1 and is credited to user @jugg4elias whose devious lick was swiping a box of disposable masks. The video has since been taken down and @jugg4elias is no longer active.
TikTok user @dtx.2cent followed the trend by stealing a hand sanitizer dispenser, and this video has also been removed from TikTok.
“Mostly what was happening was bathroom vandalism and stealing of the soap dishes,” Deekay Fox, senior marketing and communications director at Dallas charter school Uplift Education, says. “That's a huge concern for a lot of reasons and one of them is scholar safety, because we are in a pandemic right now. We need soap and all the cleansing products to keep scholars safe.”
Fox says the activity is most prevalent in middle schools. Uplift Education has increased vigilance during routine bathroom cleanings to prevent continued vandalism and encourages a culture of vigilance for scholars and faculty.
The challenge has escalated into criminal activity. Variations of the “The Devious Lick Challenge” include “The Bathroom Challenge.” Where, yes, kids are stealing bits of plumbing.
“A kid in my daughter’s school broke off the classroom water fountain and then proceeded to try to walk out of the classroom with the broken fountain before the teacher came back,” says Karina Garcia, a mother of three school-aged children in North Texas.
North Texas schools are scrambling to make parents aware of the situation. Dallas Independent School District released a statement to parents on Sept. 16.
“District campuses have experienced a great level of vandalism, and such acts will not be tolerated.” Tiffany Huitt, DISD chief of school leadership, said in the statement. “In one instance, the damage amounted to more than $15,000.”
“Our police department continues to work with the Dallas Police Department and FBI to apprehend individuals who distribute and share these types of posts.” – DISD's Tiffany Huitt, in a statement.
Vandalism losses that exceed $2,500 are considered felony criminal mischief.
“This is something I had to sit down and talk to my daughter about because these trends are getting out of hand,” Garcia says.
On Sept. 15, TikTok banned the hashtag citing it a violation of community guidelines, the same fate met by the #milkcratechallenge. Videos that included the hashtag have been taken down.
Fox says Uplift Education has seen a substantial decrease in vandalism across their 40 campuses since the ban and is encouraging families to educate their children on proper social media use and mediate activity.
Likewise, DISD is also asking parents to intervene and assist in educating their children on social media usage.
“We encourage you to speak with your student about the importance of engaging in responsible social media use and creating, sharing, or distributing false claims.” Huitt said in the DISD statement. “Our police department continues to work with the Dallas Police Department and FBI to apprehend individuals who distribute and share these types of posts.”