iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
A viral TikTok trend has sparked concerns among educational institutions across the country, with many taking efforts to crack down on the issue.
The latest challenge on the controversial video-blogging platform has been dubbed the “Devious Lick” trend, which reportedly involves students sharing videos of themselves stealing, damaging, or flaunting items they took from school.
“Lick” in this context is defined as a “type of theft which results in an acceptable, impressive and rewarding payday for the protagonist.”
The shocking trend — also referred to as “Dastardly Licks” or “Diabolical Licks” — reportedly began early September after TikTok user with the handle @judd4elias posted a video showing off a box of disposable masks that they claimed to have stolen from a school, NJ.com reported.
“(TikTok) has its good and its bad like the rest of social media. If you’re learning dance moves or cooking there’s lots of good videos,” Morgan County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Mike Swafford in Decatur, Alabama, told TODAY. “In our line of work, we often see the bad side of social media and this is one of them.”
“A month into school… absolutely devious lick,” jugg4elias reportedly captioned the video. “Should’ve brought a mask from home. Now look at you walking around campus maskless you dirty dog.” The clip garnered nearly 400,000 views before it was taken down by TikTok on Monday. According to NJ.com, the user’s profile is also no longer active on the platform.
However, the video inspired a steady stream of challenges posted on the platform with the tag “Devious Licks”, prompting school officials to comment on the issue. Sunlake High School in Land O’Lakes, Florida, posted about the challenge on Facebook, telling followers that “while kids may think this is a harmless prank, it is indeed criminal activity which will lead to serious school consequences and arrests.”
“Soap dispensers, exit signs, safety signage for fire rescue, and classroom telephones are just a few of the items that were removed and stolen this week,” the school continued. “We love our Seahawks and we do not want to see any of them arrested so PLEASE talk to your kids. If they are participating in this activity, you will be hearing from an administrator and our School Resource Officer. Let’s work together to put a stop to this now.”
Meanwhile, students at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona, were allegedly stealing soap dispensers from bathrooms. The principal subsequently sent a letter to parents warning that students could “a school suspension, full restitution, and a police report,” if caught engaging in such acts.
One TikTok user posted a video featuring a group of students sitting on an allegedly stolen bench. The post has been viewed 3.8 million times. Other videos on the popular video-sharing site show destroyed bathrooms with broken down stalls and torn down ceilings exposing pipes and insulation; another video shows how one school is even zip-tying hallway clocks to prevent theft.
TikTok is redirecting content, hashtags, and search results regarding the challenge to their community guidelines. The TikTok communications team posted a tweet this week asking users to “please be kind to your schools & teachers.”
A spokesperson for TikTok told People on Thursday, September 16, that they have since taken action in light of the viral challenge. “We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities,” the spokesperson told the magazine. “We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.”
Upon searching the term “Devious Licks” on TikTok, users are now prompted with an error message reading, “No results found. This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines. Promoting a safe and positive experience is TikTok’s top priority.”