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The Bathroom “Licks” Keep Coming
November 21, 2022
When you walk into a school bathroom, the last thing you should have to think about is whether the soap dispenser will have been ripped off the wall or if the floor has been flooded thanks to another student looking for a cheap thrill.
Welcome to high school life in the year 2022 as high school bathrooms across the country are regularly vandalized. According to National Public Radio, “Reports have emerged from across the country: a stolen soap dispenser and damaged sink in Florida; intentionally clogged toilets and mirrors and soap dispensers ripped from walls in California; [and] destruction and red dye staining the bathrooms.”
What started all this mayhem? A 2021 TikTok trend, dubbed “devious licks” laid the path for this destructive trend. A “lick” is now slang for stealing, so commiting a “devious lick” essentially means stealing or destroying school property for attention on social media. For example, last school year someone stole FCHS science teacher and baseball coach Walt Chaney’s clock off the wall in his classroom as part of this TikTok dare. To this day, he still doesn’t have a clock on his wall.
Perhaps because there are no cameras there, school bathrooms seem to be a particular target of these student vandals. “One time I was in the bathroom and saw someone throw a wet floor sign in the stall and then rip the soap dispensers off the wall. Then he just walked out,” said senior Jayden Baroch.
Yet if this trend was started by TikTok, why aren’t they doing anything about it? According to NPR, “TikTok says it is removing content with the hashtag and redirecting the search results to its community standards.” A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement, “We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities.” Yet some question how hard TikTok’s administrators have really tried to quash this and other destructive trends.
Since the “devious licks” trend began, it has since evolved into something else. Students are now destroying things just to destroy them, without even posting their actions on social media. In mid-October, FCHS Principal Margo Bruce made an announcement on the intercom saying three bathrooms had been vandalized in one day and that if the perpetrators didn’t own up to their actions she would cancel the Homecoming pep rally. According to school custodians, someone did report at least one of the vandals, but rarely a week seems to go by without some other story of bathroom vandalism, and the boys bathrooms near the Cafeteria seem to be closed on a regular basis.
Administrators are trying to get the word out that such destruction is only hurting students themselves, as they struggle to find open bathrooms. “There are plenty of ways to get involved in school and make an impact without causing damage. In addition, these acts display a lack of respect for the school and other students,” said FCHS School Resource Officer (SRO) Carter Henley.
Students who engage in vandalism rarely stop to think what effect their actions will have on others, such as forcing students to have to go further to find a working bathroom, or creating extra work for the school custodians. “I feel that kids should take pride in their school and not destroy it. Their parents pay taxes on it for them to come and vandalize the bathrooms. How would you feel if I came to your house and destroyed your bathroom and then you cleaned it and I came and destroyed it again?” said FCHS custodian Gerald Martin.
Students should also realize that those who are found to have committed vandalism will pay a price. “Vandalism outside of a school setting is a crime. Here at the high school, vandalism is a violation of the student code of conduct. An administrator and SRO will conduct an investigation, and depending on the severity of the incident, the student in question will be advised of the findings and outcome. ISS and OSS are likely punishments, as would be paying for the cost to repair or replace damaged or destroyed property,” Henley stated.
If you know of a student who has been committing acts of vandalism at school, how can you report it without being labeled as a quote “snitch?’ You can email your school administrator or one of the SROs and tell them you want to share the information confidentially. Here are their email addresses: