Janesville Craig High School’s administration is investigating at least one student for vandalism at the high school that officials say appears to be tied to a viral social media trend on the popular video-sharing app TikTok.
A Janesville School District official on Wednesday confirmed one student has been referred for disciplinary measures a day after Craig administrators sent parents and students an email linking the property damage to the “Devious Licks” challenge.
School districts across the country have been reporting a surge in students anonymously videotaping and posting their acts of vandalism on TikTok, an app that’s popular among teens.
TikTok has said it’s removing or blocking videos that are marked as Devious Licks videos or have related hashtags and show acts of vandalism at schools. “Lick” is slang for removal or theft of valuable or important objects or equipment.
Some of the TikTok videos appear to show students trashing school restrooms by pulling soap dispensers off walls or smashing toilets.
Other Devious Licks videos from around the U.S. show students stealing school district caches of surgical-style face masks, smashing bathroom mirrors, defacing lockers and mangling air return vents in school hallways.
The trend is being compared to other viral social media “challenges” in recent years that have been reported to injure people, including the Tide Pods challenge and the more recent milk crate challenge.
Officials say the TikTok vandalism videos are being filmed and posted anonymously by students. Teachers elsewhere have taken to social media to beg parents and students not to get involved in acts of vandalism that can cause thousands of dollars to fix.
Janesville School District spokesperson Patrick Gasper confirmed one Craig student is now being questioned over a video district officials obtained that shows a student vandalizing part of the high school. He said the video might be reviewed by a Janesville police school resource officer.
Gasper said he wasn’t sure the exact nature of the vandalism, although he said the district had at least one recent report of damage to a restroom at Craig.
Gasper didn’t provide further details but said Janesville’s other schools apparently haven’t seen similar incidents of videotaped vandalism.
“They (Craig administrators) have one video that they know of that mimics what’s been happening on Devious Licks, but what we don’t know is if that video was ever posted to TikTok,” Gasper said.
“If the person doing the damage is identified, they can be charged with criminal damage to property, or if they’re being videotaped by a friend, the friend could be charged as an accomplice or party to a property crime,” Gasper said.
He said an arrest for vandalizing school property can remain on a person’s record for years and hamper their prospects for getting into college or obtaining a job.
The Craig student handbook lays out the consequences for vandalism and theft of school property. Students can face fines or restitution for repairs or they can be criminally prosecuted.
Punishments, according to the student handbook, include in-school suspension, cleaning up the damage done or, depending on the severity of the damage, possible expulsion.
Gasper said the district is leery of publicizing specifics about the video-recorded vandalism out of concern the details could encourage more vandalism.
The district sent a letter to students and parents to alert them to the troubling trend. The letter asked its recipients to report to the district any vandalism or vandalism videos that comes to their attention.