New TikTok Challenge/Trend — Going Too Far?

By Giovanni Camacho, Clarion Staff Writer and Lucas Zhou, Clarion Opinion Editor

Bathroom sinks dismantled; school projectors stolen; hand sanitizer & soap dispensers torn off; students across the country contributed to the Devious Licks challenge on TikTok last September. Tik Tok user jugg4elias started the trend when he created a video showing a box of disposable masks he stole from his school along with the caption “A month into school absolutely Devious Lick Should have brought a mask from home.” 

Content created for the challenge often has video overlaid to a speeded up version of the 2014 song “Based, Based SkiGod” by rapper Lil. B. The trend started gaining more popularity when more students across schools stole items from school bathrooms:  soap dispensers, sinks, restroom stall doors, and tiles. With the challenge exploding across the nation, students attempted to one-up other TikTok users: they went from stealing items in the restroom to stealing projectors, computers, smart boards, telephones, and even essential safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and alarms. 

 The community of TikTok has cracked down on the Devious Licks challenge, which had gone through the whole month of September, well into October and into November, with students across the country being charged for vandalism over destruction and theft of school property. The platform has seen the damages caused by the trend and they are committed to stopping the trend by removing any content that involves the challenge.  People, however, are bypassing these restrictions by incorrectly spelling devious licks to circumvent Tiktok’s block on content — for example,“de3vi0us liks.”

Lucia Mar’s Unified School District in California reported about $7,000 in damages due to the challenge. These often staggering figures put a financial burden on schools, especially when many have tight budgets to fund programs such as athletics or extracurricular activities. The cost to repair and mitigate the damage shifts much-needed funding from the things that have educational benefits. So, not only are the students involved in this challenge getting arrested, but schools are also having to pay for the destruction caused by a couple students while taking money away from programs that benefit the entire student population. Teachers at other schools are making students sign out to use the restroom because of the impact from the challenge and have enacted new policies intended to prevent further students from attempting the challenge. 

 Kennedy High School is no exception. If a student at Kennedy were to contribute to the challenge and vandalize the school, they should be penalized for their actions. According to the Student Handbook, the punishment for vandalism is a suspension of up to 5 days.

A second, less known consequence that students do not realize when attempting the Devious Licks challenge is the long term effects on their future. 

A C wing boys bathroom door closed in Fall 2021. Kennedy English teacher David Phanthai said that the bathrooms had been closed due to damaged fixtures. Photo by Lucas Zhou

“Colleges and universities can see [content relating to the challenge], employers can see it, people can see it, your parents can see it, and if you post stuff like that, then that’s not a positive thing on you. It can stay with you for many years,” says Kennedy English teacher David Phanthai. He added that the boys bathrooms in the C wing had been closed due to damaged fixtures.

“It will follow your reputation. Students don’t realize, and they are only doing it for likes. It’s not worth it.” 

When asked what the future may hold in regards to the challenges escalating, he had this to say:

“Kennedy High School has been in existence since the 1960’s. We have not shut down because of one Tik Tok video, and [the challenge] won’t shut us down. We have handled everything from [threats of] bombs, school shootings, and whatnot; [the challenge] is just going to be in one day, and out the next.”

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