Tiktok’s Latest Trend Brings Chaos to Schools

Administration at Wits’ End


Melissa Santos

Foran Bathroom: A student exiting the bathroom at Joseph A. Foran High School.

Melissa Santos and Annabel Wardman

     TikTok has been extremely influential on high school students since the app’s release in September 2016. A recent trend involves teenagers stealing items from public locations. The trend originated over the summer, when people began taking random items, dubbed “devious licks” off the street. 

     A devious lick can be anything from a construction cone to a wet floor sign, as long as it’s stolen and the person wasn’t caught.

     Nationwide, when the 2021-2022 school year began, students brought the trend back to school while attempting to avoid the attention of administrators. Instead of items from the streets, TikTok users began to target school facilities.

     The New York Times says, “Soap dispensers, bathroom mirrors, paper towel holders, fire alarms and even a teacher’s desk…” are among the items taken from schools throughout the country.

     According to The New York Times and TikTok’s analytics, 94,200 videos were posted to #deviouslicks in September. 

     Since then, TikTok has tried to flag any videos posted under the hashtag for a violation of community guidelines. However, students have adapted by creating new hashtags to cheat TikTok’s algorithm. 

     Students have developed an addiction to the positive peer-attention devious licks can inspire. Teens throughout the country are chasing views, willing to go to whatever lengths are deemed necessary. 

     Advanced Placement Psychology teacher, Mr. Todd Williams, says group thinking of such proportion is a dangerous element involved with social conformity; a type of social influence involving a change in belief in order to fit in with a group.

     Williams says, “Social conformity prevents someone finding their ideal self… what you really wanna be in your life.”

     Schools have used different methods in an attempt to bring an end to the trend. In Milford, Connecticut, the common resolution was to monitor and limit socializing in school restrooms. 

     Foran’s Resource Officer Pat Taylor says, “Certain bathrooms are now locked during passing time, and only certain bathrooms are open during lunch waves, so that now we are able to easily monitor bathrooms where this destruction is occurring.”

     With these new solutions, the popularity of the devious licks trend has started to taper down for some schools, but is still prevalent in many. 

     The newly established consequences in schools have resulted in student recognition of the weight of their actions, and it appears that devious licks’ reign over schools is coming to an end. 

     Principal Max Berkowitz says, “Students should think about respecting people, respecting property, and always think about doing the right thing.”