Missing soap dispensers and mirrors from bathrooms. Stolen school property from classrooms. Millions of views on videos promoting theft. These statements define the “devious licks” trend introduced by TikTok, the #1 Entertaining app on the Apple Store, at the start of September.
The recent increase in vandalism within bathrooms raised concern among the faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Through the news, teachers and students, the administration was alerted to the TikTok trend, which has spread within the perimeters of the campus.
TikTok trends, especially dances and jokes, have exploded all over the internet, reaching thousands of communities and individuals. The popularity of the social networking platform continues to increase on a daily basis.
“I am not surprised the challenge exists because unfortunately, social media glorifies anything that will garner attention, but I am surprised that people participate knowing the consequences,” Assistant Principal Tariq Qaiyim said.
While the trend encourages students to steal any school equipment, from lockers to toilets, MSD noticed that the bathrooms were being hit more often. Mirrors were being taken down and soap dispensers started disappearing.
“I think that it’s been a long year of COVID-19 and students are back on campus and excited to get engaged in different things to make it exciting for them, but [stealing school property] is not the way to do it,” Assistant Principal Anna Koltunova said. “[Our equipment is funded by] your family’s tax dollars. When we have to continuously spend money on fixing bathrooms on school property, that’s money that gets taken away for other things that we can be using for the school to improve it.”
While numerous counties and schools have had countless items taken and damaged, MSD has not experienced extreme cases in comparison to Marion County Public Schools in north-central Florida, who arrested nine students on misdemeanor vandalism charges.
“There has not been a noticeable increase in theft [at MSD]. I really attribute this to our student body being mature as it relates to their involvement in theft,” Qaiyim said.
Anytime something is vandalized, MSD is forced to replace it if a replacement is available. This is usually done right away because of the efficiency and speed of the custodial staff, who are also on high alert.
The administration is additionally monitoring social media and taking statements from students with tips. Students who have been participating in the trend are usually found through statements, but also camera footage.
“We have really great cameras so we can locate [guilty students],” Koltunova said. “We are monitoring the bathrooms more than we ever have in the past. Every single period, we are checking every single bathroom and reporting back to security.”
If stolen items cannot be replaced by what MSD has available, the school must submit a work order to the district and temporarily close the affected area. An example is shutting down bathrooms because it is too dangerous to function without certain equipment.
“I think the trend is pretty funny, though I would be upset if I had to wash my hands and there was no soap,” junior Johnson Lei said.
Moreover, there are discipline assemblies to ensure everyone understands that regardless of if it is a challenge or not, it is still considered vandalism. Punishments follow the discipline matrix and vary depending on the severity of the situation.
“I personally feel it is silly and those who participate in the challenges are immature. There is no reasonable explanation to participate in the challenge and if it is, I am open to hear the reason,” Qaiyim said.
The MSD administration continues to educate students about the consequences of being caught participating in the challenge and encouraging appropriate behavior. Announcements are made in the morning regarding these recent activities. Furthermore, consequences can include suspension, expulsion, restitution, jail and/or a record with school and law enforcement for the remainder of a student’s life.