Damaging TikTok trend impacts local schools


A destructive TikTok challenge made its way onto several local campuses last month. Nationwide, schools have reported vandalism in bathrooms as a result of the so-called “Devious Licks” challenge on the social media platform. Videos with the hashtag racked up millions of views showing students targeting bathrooms by stealing or destroying mirrors, sinks, urinals, soap and hand sanitizer dispensers.

AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File

Torrey Pines High School Principal Rob Coppo said the activity started on his campus on the first week of school, primarily with soap dispensers. Close to 20 were taken off the wall, sometimes left in the toilet. Students also tore down about six toilet paper dispensers—Coppo said really anything attached to the wall became a target.

Coppo said the cost of the damages is not as big of deal as the staff time, having to stop doing other things to deal with something that is so stupid and unnecessary.

“The last thing we need on top of contact tracing, mask mandates and trying to get kids used to being in class for 90 minutes is to be chasing our tails on soap dispensers,” Coppo said, not to mention the important role soap dispensers play in ensuring safe hygiene while the pandemic continues.

In addition to Torrey Pines, the trend also made its way to Earl Warren Middle School, where about 20 soap dispensers were ripped off the bathroom walls according to Interim Superintendent Lucile Lynch. Pacific Trails Middle School Principal Mary Anne Nuskin said there were no damages at their school, besides the use of red Kool Aid smeared on a toilet seat a few weeks ago.

Coppo said they have been able to identify a few students responsible for the vandalism but it can be tricky to catch them when they don’t know when the activity has occurred.

The district sent a message out to families about the damages and consequences and Coppo said they have talked to students. “Mercifully,” he said, the trend seems to have stopped.

“The most powerful message is from teachers, talking to students one on one,” Coppo said. “I really do think that’s what has slowed it down…Kids don’t want to disappoint their teachers.”

TikTok reportedly banned the trend on Sept. 16 and removed videos, encouraging users to “be kind to your schools and teachers.” Some licks, however, still seem to be visible on the platform.

The trend may have been replaced with “Angelic Yields” – videos have now popped up of students leaving items to enhance their school bathrooms such as decorations or extra toilet paper, an attempt to make up for the misdeeds of the previous trend.