Midlands schools fall victim to destructive TikTok challenge

·2 min read

Schools around the Midlands are dealing with theft and vandalism as part of a nationwide social media challenge.

School districts in Lexington and Richland counties report damage to campuses caused by students participating in the “devious licks” challenge — a phenomenon where students post videos of themselves stealing items from school.

The challenge has exploded on the TikTok video-sharing app since classes resumed this year, and local schools are no exception.

“We’ve seen this happening in multiple high schools and middle schools,” said Richland 2 spokeswoman Libby Roof, adding that the most common acts seem to be damaging school bathrooms.

“We see soap dispensers torn off walls, thrown into toilets, things written on bathroom walls, rolls of toilet paper shoved into toilets,” Roof said.

Richland 2 schools aren’t the only ones dealing with the challenge. Lexington 1 reported similar incidents there.

“Last week, five of our schools reported minor damage as a result of the viral challenge,” spokesperson Kathryn McPhail said. “That damage included a few soap and paper towel dispensers broken or ripped from the walls.”

Lexington 2 also said the district has experienced similar incidents, again “with the focus mainly on bathrooms,” said district spokeswoman Dawn Kujawa.

Around the country, some students have been arrested and are facing charges due to the devious licks challenge, and the social media giant has started diverting searches for the phrase to discourage users from taking part. In the meantime, schools are having to deal with the damage done by students to “compete” in the challenge, and how to effectively police the latest social media trend.

“School administrators are working hard to address it,” Roof said. “We’ve made sure parents are aware of it, and we’re making sure the students receive appropriate discipline.”

Compounding the problem is that schools are emphasizing personal hygiene to combat the spread of COVID-19 even as school bathrooms are being regularly damaged.

“This is being done to the dispensers while we’re emphasizing washing hands, that’s what’s so frustrating,” Roof said.

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