The nationwide “devious licks” TikTok craze has hit local schools. It started earlier this month when a student stole a package of disposable facemasks from his school and posted it on TikTok calling the theft a devious lick. Students from across the country suddenly began following suit and trying to one up each other by taking items from school and committing petty vandalism, often focusing on bathrooms, and then posting about it on TikTok.
TikTok is a social media platform that specializes in posting short videos and it is very popular among teenagers. Last week TikTok removed any videos on its site that mentioned devious licks in an attempt to stop the vandalism.
Area schools have not been exempt from the trend although many school administrators don’t seem anxious to talk about it with the press, perhaps because they don’t want to encourage copycat incidents.
“We have had a few minor incidents that we believe are related to the devious lick TikTok challenge,” said Dave Mannon, assistant principal for student affairs at Riverside-Brookfield High School, in an email. “The deans and security have done a good job with hallway supervision and bathroom checks to monitor and address any incidents.”
April Mahy, the principal of L.J. Hauser Junior High shared her concerns about the trend in an impassioned email to Hauser parents on Sept. 17 asking for their help in combating the trend.
Mahy wrote that some students had made very poor choices and she told parents, in all capital letters, “WE NEED YOUR HELP.”
Mahy called the devious licks phenomenon “one of the most ridiculous national trends in recent memory.”
In her email to parents Mahy wrote that students are encouraged to steal items from the school such as soap dispensers from the bathrooms, fire extinguishers, paper towel holders, pencil sharpeners, and classroom items that have the teacher’s name on them. Some students also stuff toilets and steal urinal cakes.
“Bathroom and teacher’s classroom items have been stolen or destroyed all in the name of this social media challenge,” Mahy wrote in her email to parents.
Mahy asked parents to help stop this behavior by talking to their children and monitoring their social media activity. She also said that students committing vandalism might be reported to the police.
“We are asking all families to reinforce the message that this behavior is unacceptable at school,” Mahy wrote. “Students found to be doing these things will face the most serious consequences that can be enforced and may be escalated to the Riverside Police Department as vandalism and destruction of property.”
Thus far though no incidents at Hauser or RBHS have been reported to the Riverside Police Department, said Matt Buckley, Riverside’s public safety director.
Mahy did not return a call from the Landmark asking about devious licks incidents. Riverside Elementary School District 96 Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye said that Mahy believes that talking to press about the incidents would only encourage more incidents. Ryan-Toye said she did not have an estimate of the damage to Hauser but said that she thought it was minor and that nothing had reached the level of reporting it to police or seeking financial restitution.
Ryan Evans, principal at S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield, also sent an email to parents last week about the devious licks trend. In response to an inquiry from the Landmark Evans said that there have been a few incidents at Gross.
“We have seen some juvenile behavior in the bathrooms,” Evans said in an email to the Landmark. “At this time it has had little financial impact. We have had great support from our parent community in talking with their children about this and the reinforcement of expectations here at school.”
Komarek School Principal Diane Michelini said there have been a couple of minor incidents at Komarek including a soap dispenser being removed from a boys bathroom and water on the floor in a boys bathroom.
Lyons Township High School principal Jennifer Tyrrell said there have been devious lick incidents at LTHS. “We’ve experienced some incidents of damage at both North and South campus over the course of the last week or so. At this point we continue to increase our presence and supervision in order to deter that behavior within our school,” she said.