TikTok Trend Turns Students Into Vandals


Nic Gulizia, Editor

Over the past few years, the app TikTok has been rising in popularity. Creators can make short, funny videos and share them on the app for other users to see on their “for you page.” Information and ideas spread fast throughout the app, the most popular videos gaining millions of views. Many use the app as a way to express themselves or post funny, lighthearted content.

Recently, TikTok took a turn for the worse. A particular trend caught the attention of millions of students across the country: taking part in “devious licks.” The question is: how exactly did it begin? How is it causing damage to schools all over the nation?

The trend consists of vandalizing and destroying school property, such as toilets, fire extinguishers, soap dispensers, mirrors, and even smartboards.

“We’ve been fortunate that it has not had to escalate up to having a team from the district come out and repair or fix any of the vandalism that’s taking place,” Gunderson Principal, Kevin Wan, said.

Other schools across the country have not been as fortunate. In Fort Collins, Colorado, the district reported flooded bathrooms, broken windows, and students stealing staff keys, cellphones, and ID badges. Costly items were stolen, another hit to school finances that have already been struggling since the pandemic.

“For us, it hasn’t been large, but at the same time, this is money that could also be spent elsewhere, if there wasn’t any vandalism at all,” Wan said. “At the same time, multiple occurrences add up.”

The Gunderson staff has taken a lot of extra time to repair the restrooms and catch the students performing the vandalism and destruction. Unfortunately, it’s also taken a minor toll on workers.

“It’s not necessarily a monetary toll, but it has taken a lot of time out of administration staff to try and identify the bad actors,” Wan said.

Many measures have been implemented to help prevent these acts in the first place, one of them being a new app to help combat the behavior before it even happens.

“So if any student notices or believes that there’s going to be something taking place, we would encourage that student to come forward and submit an anonymous report through our ‘Stop It’ app. And then that way we can go ahead and try and mitigate that behavior or that action before it occurs,” Wan stated.

Social media may be becoming a big issue due to the extensive promotion of dangerous or harmful actions, encouraging students to participate in the trends.

“We’re seeing an uptick of these types of acts, school vandalism, more so than years past, and I think it’s a direct result from this social media post that’s been going around,” Wan claimed. “So, yeah, [social media is] definitely a very bad influence, and unfortunately they’re out there, and they’re accessible for people to see.”

Some restrooms at school were closed for about a week, showing students that their actions come with consequences.

According to Wan, the signs essentially stated, “Hey, these restrooms are for student use, and if students aren’t going to use them for its intended purpose, then we’re going to make it more inconvenient for students to go to the restroom.”

Regarding the harmful content on social media that has been going around, Wan suggests an alternative route – positive actions.

“Whether it’s just communicating ‘don’t do this’ or showing a video of doing the right thing. I think leveraging that same voice that’s going around encouraging bad behavior, to flip it, and encourage good behavior.

Peer pressure has negatively affected students. In many situations, they are coerced to participate. Many of them may believe that they will become “cool” by fitting in with others.

“Maybe in the moment, that just seems appropriate and cool to try and do that, get it on recording, because they’re not the ones, in the end, having to fix the problem that was created,” Wan said.

“Just being mindful and respectful in general, but even more so, I think just in this pandemic where everyone’s still struggling and adjusting. If we could just all respect each other, [and] respect the property.”