TikTok trend causes problems for schools nationwide

TikTok trend causes problems for schools nationwide

Mr. Hartman, Adviser

The latest social media exercise in ‘following the leader’ centers on a new TikTok trend which encourages kids to steal from, and/or vandalize school bathrooms. The trend is called ‘devious licks’ and it began in early September when user @jugg4elias posted a video of himself stealing a box of disposable masks from his school with a caption that read “A month into school absolutely devious lick:”. The video has since been removed but that didn’t stop the trend from rapidly moving across school aged populations.

Furthermore, the trend seems to be getting increasingly destructive and also costly to school systems. It may have begun with a box of disposable masks, but the trend has evolved into outright acts of vandalism and thefts, some of which border on felony level theft. Stolen objects range from microscopes to soap dispensers to (perhaps most worryingly) fire extinguishers.

TikTok made a formal statement to Newsweek  “We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.” TikTok has since begun removing most of the videos featuring ‘devious licks’ from its platform.

Here at THS we have been caught up in this trend as well. You may have noticed that many of our bathrooms have been locked. This is a direct response to students vandalizing everything from soap dispensers to toilet seats. The end result is that many students must go in search of an open bathroom. Additionally, while students may believe they are engaging in a harmless social media trend, vandalism is in fact a crime.

In the state of Maryland, vandalism laws are covered by: Maryland Code, Criminal Law, Title 6, Subtitle 1, Section 6-301, et seq. The law outlines definitions for differing vandalism offenses and the penalties for such acts. If the damage is less than $1,000 it is considered a misdemeanor which can carry a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine. If the damage is more than $1,000 dollars it is still considered a misdemeanor but it carries a maximum sentence of up to 3 years in prison and a $2,500.00 fine. So, this particular social media trend could very well land its participants in far more trouble than they realize.

Student reactions to the trend seem firmly in the ‘against’ camp. Many students have expressed frustrations with the trend because it forces the closure of bathrooms which causes all students to suffer. Senior Mia Hill summed up her opinions of the ‘devious licks’ trend with just two words: “It’s dumb”. Another senior Wesley Paz said simply “I just want to use the bathroom man”. Hopefully this trend dies down soon, if most social media trends are an indication, it won’t be around too terribly long, but be warned Titans, this trend is violating Maryland state law and you may want to ask yourself if ‘likes’ on TikTok are worth a trip to juvenile court.