A new viral social media trend has encouraged students to take or destroy objects from their school and post about the vandalism online. Not only is it a disruption to learning, it’s led to thousands of dollars in school property damages. Marion County school districts are trying to prevent it from happening.
What Are ‘Devious Licks’?
The TikTok trend is called ‘devious licks.’ It’s when students post about stealing objects like soap and paper towel dispensers, or damaging school property.
Most of the incidents have taken place in school restrooms when there isn’t someone monitoring students. It’s even resulted in a school district in Temple, Arizona closing bathrooms so students wouldn’t be able to cause any damage.
Many Marion County districts have implemented additional proactive measures. Beech Grove and Indianapolis Public Schools said they haven’t experienced any vandalism incidents this month related to the devious licks trend.
But other school districts haven’t been as lucky.
Consequences for Marion County Students
The Decatur Township school district said it has seen an increase in vandalism and theft this month. This includes high schoolers causing roughly $1,000 in damages to restrooms by vandalizing a sink, as well as stealing soap, paper towel and toilet paper dispensers. Decatur middle schoolers were also reported to have stolen dispensers. But the district said the incidents have since died down.
Vandalism also increased in many Wayne Township schools, including the Lynhurst 7th & 8th Grade Center. The school has seen many broken or stolen restroom soap dispensers, classroom equipment, such as hole punches and Smart Board pens, have gone missing.
“This situation causes problems for the rest of our students who come to school and work hard at doing everything they are supposed to do,” Lynhurst Principal Dan Wilson said in an email to families. “It also makes it hard for teachers who now have to spend more effort on preventing theft and vandalism in addition to their hard work teaching and supporting all of our kids.”
In response, Principal Wilson said that students who are caught vandalizing or stealing will face consequences such as potential criminal charges. Damages will be billed to parents for the replacement of items and the labor costs to repair or replace them. The district said the incidents have stopped since the email explaining these consequences was sent out.
In Lawrence Township schools, students and families could be held responsible for paying for damages.
Washington Township school leaders are taking a different approach: students will receive community service hours to clean up damages. They could also potentially be suspended or expelled, per the district’s code of conduct.
Helping Students Navigate Future Social Media Posts
In Pike Township schools only a few devious licks incidents have been reported. But school leaders are taking a more hands-on approach with their students.
“We are treating this as a teachable moment and have talked to students about the importance of taking pride in their school and stressed that vandalism and theft are serious offenses that can have significant consequences,” the district said.
In an email response from the district, Pike Township said it wants to work with students to help them navigate responsible social media usage.
“Our schools also made families aware of the trend, as we know how influential social media can be and believe it is important to provide our students with as much support as possible to help them navigate the various platforms they have access to in a safe and healthy manner,” the district said.
TikTok said it prohibits content that promotes criminal behavior and has since banned devious licks videos.
Contact WFYI education reporter Elizabeth Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @_elizabethgabs.