Troubling Trend: School leaders address recent TikTok trend encouraging theft and vandalism on campus

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TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – A troubling TikTok trend is attracting the attention of school leaders across the nation and even here in the Tri-Cities.

The trend called ‘devious licks’ encourages students to steal items from campus and/or vandalize in the process. These students record their quests and then post them to the app.

While the trend went live shortly after the month began, Johnson City Schools first noticed destruction on their campuses on Monday which prompted them to send a letter to parents and students addressing the issue.

Here is the statement sent via email to parents with students within the district:

We would like you to be aware of a concerning trend that has turned up at Indian Trail, Liberty Bell, and Science Hill. A challenge on the social media platform TikTok encourages students to steal or destroy school property and then post a picture or video of the item as a “trophy”. Schools across the country are noting this concerning behavior. Theft and vandalism have school consequences that include suspensions, financial restitution, and the loss of privileges. These cases will also be referred to the police for charges. Please talk with your student(s) about this trend and make your expectations known to them. We have beautiful facilities in our district and many hard-working staff who take pride in keeping them well maintained for our benefit. Thank you for partnering with us to keep our schools and students safe.

-Johnson City Schools

While the theft hasn’t exactly been to the extreme level being seen in some of the more viral videos, school officials want students to know that this trend in any form is not welcome on campuses in the Tri-Cities.

“It’s been things like soap dispensers from the bathrooms, signs, kids are taking those types of things. We haven’t really had any major things so far,” said JC Johnson City Schools Supervisor of Safety and Mental Health, Dr. Greg Wallace.

While school consequences were outlined in the letter sent out by Johnson City Schools, students can also face legal consequences by participating.

“Once it gets over $1,000, they can be charged at a different level and that can add up pretty quickly when you’re not only looking at the theft of the object but the destruction of the property. So it’s one of those things that kids may think is funny or it might get them some attention, but it can be a pretty serious issue,” said Wallace.

Officials with Kingsport City Schools told News Channel 11 they’re seeing the same thing in their schools.

“That doesn’t really reflect who we are as a district to cause that kind of destruction and to cause that kind of damage in our schools. We are starting to see some of that vandalism take place so we’re just really encouraging our students, our families, and our staff to all work together to set a high bar and ensure, yes, these things will be dealt with,” said Kingsport City Schools Asst. Superintendent, Dr. Andy True.

While Johnson City Schools can’t elaborate on disciplinary measures when it comes to these students they did confirm those caught participating have been handed down the appropriate consequences.

As for the trend, TikTok is now removing videos that show students stealing items– in hopes of shutting this troubling trend down.

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