AUSTIN, Texas — Some schools in Central Texas are dealing with the effects of a TikTok challenge that encourages students to vandalize bathrooms.
One Austin Independent School District middle school is threatening to close the bathrooms because students are vandalizing them. The school said those students are participating in a TikTok challenge.
In a letter to families, Lively Middle School Principal Stacie Holiday wrote that students have been vandalizing the restrooms over the last two weeks. Most Austin ISD middle schools are reporting similar cases, according to the letter.
Holiday said the school’s administration concluded that students are participating in a TikTok bathroom challenge after an investigation into the incidents.
“Students on social media (TikTok platform) are encouraging other students to destroy school restrooms by throwing trash on the floors, pulling off soap dispensers, stealing toilet paper, and in some cases destroying the plumbing,” Holiday said in the letter.
The TikTok “bathroom challenge," also known as the “Devious Licks” challenge, also encourages students to steal items from their schools, such as wet floor signs, microscopes, clocks and hand sanitizer dispensers.
Holiday said Lively Middle School does not want to lock the restrooms but will if the vandalism continues.
“As of today, students involved in vandalism have been issued consequences and parents were contacted,” Holiday wrote. “Repeat offenders will have severe consequences that go beyond community service, detention, phone calls home, suspensions, and apology letters.”
In the letter, Holiday asked parents to “have a discussion at home with your children about the seriousness of vandalism.” Lively Middle School parents are also asked to monitor their children’s social media pages for content related to the challenge.
On Wednesday, TikTok announced it is removing all content that includes the hashtag “deviouslick.” Users who search the term will be redirected to the platform’s Community Guidelines.
And Austin ISD isn't the only Central Texas district seeing the impacts of the TikTok challenge. On Thursday, the principal of Walsh Middle School in Round Rock ISD sent a letter to parents saying that the school is seeing increased vandalism as well.
"Currently schools, including ours, are experiencing an increase of vandalism, particularly in our restrooms. We believe this results from a TikTok trend called the 'Devious Lick' challenge, where students are encouraged to damage and steal school property," Principal Rudy Reyes said.
Reyes said those damages take staff and financial resources to fix, resources that "could be placed elsewhere," and that a "massive influx [of incidents] puts any campus in a position where it becomes more difficult to serve students to the fullest."
Reyes asked that parents speak with their children about the vandalism and remind them that destroying or stealing campus property is a violation of the student code of conduct.
TikTok's Community Guidelines say the social media platform will remove content that “promotes or enables criminal activities,” including theft.
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