Social media challenge brings increase in school vandalism

According to digital anthropologist Giles Crouch, the TikTok social media trend known as "The Devious Licks challenge" is spreading quickly online.

"It is going down to Latin America and it worked up to Canada very quickly," said Crouch. "This is being seen all across Canada."

The challenge features some students destroying school bathroom fixtures while damaging and stealing other school property items.

"Soap dispensers coming out of the walls," said Reign Sherrington, the brother of a Halifax-area student. "I heard at Halifax West High School, they had sinks coming out of the walls."

TikTok is removing "Devious Licks" posts from its platform. Crouch said students likely think it is only a prank, not vandalism.

"This is sort of the digital age version of pulling the fire alarm from 20-plus years ago, when we were in high school," said Crouch.

The issue is serious enough, that Millwood High School sent a note home to parents.

Jenna Kedy is a student at Bay View High School.

"Our school last week sent a huge email that said they wanted people to stop breaking soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers," said Kedy. "And then I started hearing from friends and seeing videos on my TikTok feed from people at various schools around Halifax, breaking soap dispensers and breaking paper towel holders."

Crouch said young people often participate in a social media activityto join the crowd and gain peerre-enforcement.

"They are more concerned about getting social acceptance," said Crouch.