The infamous “Devious Lick” trend was the highlight of TikTok during the early days of September 2021, when the school season had just begun. The trend, now no longer in action, began with a TikTok user stating in their video “a month into school absolutely devious lick. Should've brought a mask from home".
The viral TikTok influenced many others on the social media app to take or vandalize objects in their respective schools. From soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers in bathrooms to fire extinguishers and science lab microscopes in schools, it’s safe to say many teenagers took this trend a bit too far. Despite many stealing token items from their schools, some took to TikTok to create a parody of the trend and take things such as a single paper clip.
Due to the serious nature of the actions resulting from a social media trend, some face criminal charges for theft or vandalism. Police arrested and charged a 15-year-old student from a high school in Florida after two soap dispensers were removed from the bathrooms. In addition, nine students in Florida were arrested on misdemeanor vandalism charges for hand dryers and paper towel dispensers being ripped off the wall and the destruction of a urinal.
As one can imagine, this uproar of theft and vandalism is extremely frustrating for the faculty of schools. Many administrators’ initial responses were to lock bathrooms and post additional supervision outside the doors during the rare times they were accessible; some have also added cameras on school premises. Not only does this create additional stress for teachers, but it also creates frustration among the student body as they are restricted from simple tasks such as using the bathroom. This trend also costs districts hundreds of dollars in repairs, money that is not easily accessible to them. Numerous schools also do not have the extra money to replace some very valuable items as it has been dedicated to classroom supplies and the new need for COVID-19 protection equipment such as hand sanitizers and masks.
Not just the faculty, but students are fed up too. In Utah, students have access to an app called SafeUT, managed by the Utah State Board of Education, which was originally launched as a suicide prevention tool or to be used to report unsafe behavior. Due to the trend, the app has been used as means to report damages that were a result of the “Devious Lick” trend, taking away from the app’s main purpose.
The “Devious Lick” is yet another influential social media trend affecting the way hundreds and thousands of students behave. After all the different consequences, both students and faculty, have to face and manage, I think it's best if we all stick to participating in trends that display our dance skills instead of committing damage to school property and equipment!
Bellware, Kim. “Students Are Destroying Bathrooms, Swiping School Supplies in Latest TikTok Challenge Gone Awry.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 17 Sept. 2021, www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/09/17/devious-licks-tik-tok/.
Haasch, Palmer. “Students Are Claiming on TikTok That They Stole Soap Dispensers, Smartboards, and Microscopes from Schools as Part of a Growing Trend.” Insider, Insider, 14 Sept. 2021, www.insider.com/devious-lick-tiktok-meaning-stealing-school-equipment-meme-2021-9.
Seelig, Jennifer. “'Devious Licks' Tiktok Challenge Hits Local Schools.” NEWS10 ABC, NEWS10 ABC, 22 Sept. 2021, www.news10.com/news/the-devious-licks-tiktok-challenge-causes-damage-in-local-schools/.
Snider, Mike. “'Devious Licks' Challenge on TikTok Leads to Criminal Charges against Students across US.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 21 Sept. 2021, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/09/21/tiktok-devious-licks-challenge-schools-police-students-arrests/5797455001/.