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TikTok’s ‘Devious Lick’ challenge hits southern Arizona school districts

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Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 10:25 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - TikTok has banned a viral challenge that’s encouraging students to steal from their schools.

The trend is called “devious lick.” It’s serious business and schools across the country report they have been hit hard.

It pushed kids to commit crimes, theft and vandalism, and then post it on TikTok for likes. Some videos racked up thousands or millions of views.

But this craze comes with consequences.

Students across the country have been allegedly clogging toilets, stealing sinks, paper towel dispensers, projectors and computers, and then posting their “devious lick” on TikTok.

The principal at Desert View High School, Angelica Duddleston, described what’s happened at her school.

“So we’ve had some instances where we’ve had to shut down the bathrooms because the kids are coming through just ripping the paper towel dispensers off or taking the soap out of soap dispensers,” she said.

Or ripping the soap dispenser off the wall in one of the boys’ bathrooms.

She reported the criminal activity recently ramped up.

“For the last two weeks, there’s some sort of daily occurrence. Usually in the restrooms,” she said.

And the consequences for students can be severe.

The Sunnyside Unified School District sent us this statement: “Students and families should be aware that we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior. Anyone involved will be disciplined and damage and/or theft will be reported to local law enforcement.”

Other districts reporting issues related to the “devious licks” trend so far include:

District statements

Marana

“MUSD has seen vandalism and theft at five of our secondary schools that we believe to be related to this challenge. At this time, we have been dealing with the incidents on a case-by-case basis at the school level.”

Flowing Wells

“Flowing Wells has experienced some vandalism at FWJH and FWHS, primarily in restrooms and involving the destruction of soap and paper towel dispensers.”

Tanque Verde

“We have had vandalism on our two secondary campuses. Although it is not quite the level of what we are seeing in the media coverage thus far.”

Catalina Foothills

“Over that past week, we have seen an uptick in vandalism at some of our schools, and these incidents seem related to the Devious Licks challenge. We have had soap and toilet paper dispensers torn off the walls, hand sanitizer units stolen, and trash cans moved from classrooms into the hallway. Some of our schools’ strategies include monitoring restrooms frequently and introducing our custodians by name (and picture) in the announcements. The idea is that if kids connect their actions to the cost imposed on real people, they will be less likely to commit these senseless acts. If we are able to identify who is responsible for these acts, the students are subject to disciplinary consequences.”

Catalina Foothills sent this letter to middle and high school families.

Dear CFSD families,

There is a current national trend where students are being challenged to steal or vandalize school property. Then, on social media, students are posting videos showing what they stole or damaged.

These students may be trying to be funny, but we’re not laughing. Here are a few examples of what we’re seeing:

· Paper towel dispensers and hand sanitizer stations are being torn off of walls.

· Toilets are covered with red substances and are clogged with foreign objects.

· Furniture items and Chromebooks are moved, damaged, or missing.

These destructive acts are costing thousands of dollars to our schools and they are adding many hours to our custodians’ busy workloads. Ultimately, you are paying the price through your taxes.

We are stepping up security procedures around campus and we are monitoring our restrooms frequently. If we are able to identify who is responsible for these acts, the students are subject to disciplinary consequences, including paying for the damaged or stolen items.

You can help. Talk to your child about how to avoid falling for these senseless social media trends. We know that this challenge will fade, but we also know that another one will be on the horizon. Let’s stop it before it can gain a foothold here again.

Thanks in advance for your partnership on this issue.

Sahuarita

“Sahuarita Unified School District has had a handful of incidents that are being addressed by the school administration on an individual basis. The majority of the incidents are bathroom vandalism with soap/hand sanitizer dispensers being removed from the walls.”

Tucson Unified

“We have received several notices of vandalism in schools regarding soap dispensers pulled from walls. We do not have an official list or number of incidents but all schools are vigilant and advising staff, students and parents to help stop the trend.”

TikTok tweeted that it’s removing content and redirecting hashtag and search results to its Community Guidelines to prevent the behavior.

A search for “devious lick” will result in a “No results found” message.

Most of the districts reporting problems say they’re handling the incidents internally, meaning they’ve not reported any of the criminal activity to police.

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