A destructive TikTok challenge to vandalize school bathrooms has promoted a wave of damage in school districts across the state. The challenge involves students destroying school property, most often in bathrooms, and then posting videos of the damage to social media with the hashtag #deviouslicks. It then adds a “devious lick” is slang for a theft.
“We’re in a pandemic and we don’t need this,” said Dr. Edward Zelich, superintendent of Charleroi Area School District, where last week soap dispensers were torn off walls, soap was smeared on floors, a bathroom sink was partially ripped from a wall, and paper products and items were stuffed in toilets.
Other school districts which include Chartiers-Houston, Ringgold and Trinity in Washington County, Frazier in Fayette County, and Central Greene in Greene County, also have experienced vandalism prompted by the TikTok challenge.
Central Greene Superintendent Dr. Kevin Monaghan said soap and paper dispensers were destroyed in the high school. At least one student has been suspended at Charleroi for the damage.
Pennsylvania State Police has sent school administrators an alert about the social media challenge, adding the challenge began earlier in the month when a TikTok user showed off a bottle of hand sanitizer in his backpack and wrote in the caption the theft had been a “devious lick.”
“It is rather frustrating when the social media platforms allow this to continue,” Dr. William Henderson III, superintendent of Frazier School District in western Pennsylvania, told the Observer-Reporter newspaper.
Many of the “devious lick” videos have been removed from TikTok, and a search for the hashtag on the platform no longer shows results. Instead, a message states in part: “This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines.”
However, the trend is continuing inside trouble-plagued Pennsylvania schools.
According to Zelich, these acts of vandalism are irrational. “It’s just perplexing to me why a student would do this. It’s inexcusable. It’s nonsense.”