School bathroom soap dispensers and signage pulled from the walls.
Toilets clogged on purpose.
Teachers’ private property stolen from classrooms.
Kids will be kids, right? We were all tweens and teens.
But this time around, it’s all caught on video for the “Devious Licks” TikTok challenge that’s trending nationwide.
Central Oregon school buildings are taking the brunt of the trend and principals hope parents can help put an end to the vandalism.
“It’s been really important for us to get ahead of that and let students and families know the seriousness of what feels like a prank is actually a really big deal,” said Jensine Peterson, principal at Redmond’s Obsidian Middle School. “I think that it’s a very risky thing to do and risk can look really enticing and look like a challenge and get some status with your friends when in fact that’s only part of the story.”
Officials in Bend-La Pine Schools – the region’s largest district – tell Central Oregon Daily News “we can report there is no significant damage at this time.”
Principals, teachers, parents, and students in the district and across the region tell a much different story.
At Bend’s Pacific Crest Middle School, Principal Ryan Kelling sent a newsletter to families last week, calling on parents to talk to their kids about “not following harmful trends” and taking pride in their school.
He made families aware of the costs associated with “adolescent hijinks.”
“Not only are these items costly, but they have removed paint from the wall in many cases as well – creating a further nuisance that is also expensive for us in terms of the labor and materials required to repair the destruction,” Kelling said in his newsletter. “Further, the bathroom signs are legally required per the Americans with Disabilities Act because they include braille signage. The soap dispensers are a hygienic necessity.”
Kelling returned a call to Central Oregon Daily News but declined to comment on the vandalism and referred us to the district’s communication team.
“The bottom line is what some students have said, “it is just a joke” is actually vandalism and/or theft and it is unacceptable.”
– Pacific Crest Middle School Principal Ryan Kelling
in a letter to parents
Students at the school say the bathroom doors have been removed entirely, presumably for staff to be able to hear what’s going on inside.
“It is absolutely disheartening to see these children destroying private property and behaving in this manner,” one Pacific Crest parent told Central Oregon Daily News. “I hope if caught they will be held to the full extent of the law.”
At Pilot Butte Middle School, teachers and parents tell us students are not allowed to use the bathroom during passing periods.
Instead, they’re only allowed to use the restroom during class where they’re required to use their Ipads to sign out – making it easier to possibly track down the vandals.
Some students have already been suspended over the vandalism.
But many students understand the severity and tell us they’re not all that impressed with their classmates who are taking part in the challenge.
“They think it’s just a joke, but it’s just ruining school property,” said Shyanne Gage, a student at Obsidian.
The Jefferson County School District said the trend has made its way to Madras and kids are destroying soap dispensers.
“Those aren’t that cheap (about $50/each) and we’ve lost several of those so that is the most significant thing,” said Communication Director Joseph Prechtl. “We would call this significant damage since the soap dispensers are being ripped from the wall.”
In a letter to Madras High School parents, Principal Brian Crook said the community needed to work together to put a stop to the vandalism.
“If your child uses social media, please talk to them about being socially responsible and kind; this “challenge” is criminal behavior, not an innocent prank, and theft and vandalism have school consequences,” he wrote.
In Crook County, Communications Director Jason Carr said they’re aware of the trend, but have yet to see any vandalism in the middle schools.
“The high school has experienced a few problems, but nothing that’s led to suspension or major disciplinary issues,” he said.
“If your child uses social media, please talk to them about being socially responsible and kind; this “challenge” is criminal behavior, not an innocent prank, and theft and vandalism have school consequences.”
– Madras High School Principal Brian Crook in a letter to parents.
Meanwhile, members of Congress are even aware of the situation.
Earlier this week U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called on TikTok to take action to help stop the vandalism.
He said there were 94,000+ videos in the last month with the hashtag in question.
TikTok responded, saying it has removed the content – but teachers tell us students are bypassing that by altering the hashtag hoping to continue the trend.
“We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities,” TikTok said in a statement provided to Central Oregon Daily News. “We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.”