A Raleigh middle school is limiting bathroom access as a result of a new TikTok challenge that’s leading to vandalism and destruction across the nation.
Shattered mirrors, missing soap dispensers and broken toilets recently have been linked to the “devious lick” challenge, in which social media users share videos of damage done to schools. The vandalism has reached a point where Wakefield Middle School in Raleigh is now limiting when students can go to the bathroom so that staff can supervise them.
“In the past 3 days, there has been a trend of disturbing vandalism to our school’s bathrooms, fueled by social media challenges that encourage students to engage in destructive behaviors within schools, especially bathrooms,” Alison Cleveland, Wakefield Middle’s principal, wrote in a letter to families on Tuesday.
“Sadly, these behaviors have occurred at Wakefield Middle School. Examples of these behaviors include breaking toilets and pulling sinks off the walls, removing the soap from the dispensers and spraying it on the floors and walls, and breaking the water vents and pipes, causing leaks.”
Cleveland said bathrooms are now closed for student use between classes and for individual requests. Instead, she said a schedule will be created where whole classes go to the bathroom.
“Staff will supervise bathroom use and will limit the number of students in the bathroom at one time to the number of stalls contained in the bathroom,” she added.
‘I hope this trend quickly ends’
Cleveland said students may be assigned additional homework because the new bathroom breaks will likely disrupt and decrease instructional time. She said that this unfinished classwork may be graded, unlike normal homework assignments.
“I hope this trend quickly ends and the students demonstrate that we can trust them to use the bathrooms appropriately,” Cleveland said. “When we can, we will return to traditional bathroom access.
“We recognize that this change affects a whole school based on the actions of a few. However, the actions of a few have also created safety risks for all students and student safety is our top priority.”
School vandals will be punished
In response to a request for comment, a TikTok spokesperson on Wednesday told McClatchy News: “We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.”
But the trend already has led to reports of incidents in multiple states, including Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Texas — causing districts nationwide to warn that the students responsible for the damage could be punished.
A similar fate could happen to Wakefield Middle students who are found responsible for the damage.
“We will continue to investigate the students involved in the vandalism and move forward with the appropriate corrective actions,” Cleveland said. “We ask that you please speak with your students at home regarding these actions.”