Schools respond to ‘devious licks’ social media challenge catching on in Minnesota

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Videos of students from around the country taking part in the new "devious licks" challenge have been all over the social media platform TikTok.

Students are encouraged to steal or vandalize their school property, generally in the bathroom, and then share video of that act.

Bloomington Public Schools has ramped up bathroom checks and sent a letter home to families after noticing a few incidents in each of its three middle schools and two high schools.

"Largely removing soap dispensers, either tearing them off the wall or breaking them so they could get in and get the soap, the type of soap we use is blue in a bag and so they’re squirting that around the bathroom, stomping on it so it goes all over the floor, stealing toilet paper," Rick Kaufman describes.

Anoka-Hennepin and St. Paul schools have also had issues.

TikTok is now removing devious licks content and directing users to its community guidelines page.

But why do these challenges catch on with kids?

"We have to remember that here they are seeing something fun happen and they want to try it too, just like adults, but adults have the capacity to say there are consequences here and that doesn’t make sense and what if, they (students) don’t necessarily have the abilty to do that yet," says University of Minnesota Assistant Professor Marguerite Ohrtman.

Ohrtman says it’s inevitable — there will be another viral challenge. She recommends parents and students start talking now to prepare for later.

"Parents and guardians, you’ve got to be involved, you got to be on their phone, see what they are doing, ask the questions, you have to spend the time and energy and kids you have to talk with your parents too," she states.