Devious Licks: the Plague of TikTok

The privacy of school bathrooms lowers the risk for participants in the trend. || Illustration by: April Kinney

A New Trend Has Caused Substantial Property Damage in Denver and Nationwide

Internet trends are anything but new. For decades, funny, elaborate, and even dangerous trends have gripped the world’s youth. Stunts such as the “Tide Pod” challenge in 2018 have resulted in multiple poison control incidents and hospital visits. Now more than ever, with the popularization of the social media app TikTok, internet trends spread like wildfire.  

Taking social media by storm, the so-called “Devious Licks” challenge is the latest TikTok trend among high school students to encourage reckless and illegal behavior. The popular site Know Your Meme explains that the trend began back in the beginning of September. TikTok user @jugg4elias is cited as the originator of the trend, with a video depicting them pulling a box of disposable masks, implied to be stolen from the school, out of their backpack.  

As the trend caught on, thefts escalated from mundane, inconsequential items such as hand sanitizer dispensers, to more valuable items like microscopes and computers.  

Quickly, participants in the trend turned their attention to school bathrooms. The connections between the origin of the trend and what it has become are blurred. A possible explanation for the focus on school bathrooms is the bathrooms’ privacy. Numerous school bathrooms across the country have fallen victim to the trend. Stolen urinals, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, and even smashed tiles and bathroom stall ripped from walls have cost schools anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars in repairs. 

Denver7 reports that at least seven school districts in the Denver area have been affected by the devastating challenge. Cherry Creek High School details students even stealing fire extinguishers, causing safety concerns for other students and staff in the case of emergency. Earlier this month, students and parents received an email from the high school stating the consequences of students vandalizing property, including, “suspension, restitution, law enforcement referral, and/or expulsion.”  

The excessive damage has placed schools in the awkward position of shutting down bathrooms and restricting bathroom breaks, leaving parents outraged. Central Texas News reports an Interview with Mother Lindsey Curry, “It’s been extremely frustrating as a parent, as a mother, that this is a basic necessity, that our kids have access to the restroom.” 

Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal urged TikTok to do more in stopping these dangerous harmful trends, claiming the app has a duty to regulate these kinds of activities. “You have a responsibility to delete videos, ban users, and restrict hashtags that glorify property damage and threats to school safety to prevent this destructive behavior from spreading,” Blumenthal wrote in a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew. It was later discovered that TikTok has taken down the hashtag “Devious Licks,” but many have found ways around the restrictions by simply misspelling the word “licks.”  

Taking a more positive spin on the once heinous trend, “Angelic Yields” is essentially the antithesis to “Devious Licks.” With this more benevolent version, students put soap back in its dispensers, clean bathrooms, and even go as far as redecorating. One video specifically shows a boy’s bathroom called the “Gentlemen’s Club” completely transformed into a country club-like bathroom complete with a makeshift coatrack, magazines, wall decor, and classical music playing in the background via speaker.  

The hope for the rest of the year is that these dangerous and criminalizing trends end, but it is unlikely with the rising fame and youth support surrounding them.

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