TikTok school vandalism viral challenge hits Connecticut

A nationwide trend in which students film school vandalism and post the videos to a TikTok has been reported in Connecticut schools.

“Bathroom challenge” posts on the popular social media platform encouraged students to steal items such as fire extinguishers and soap dispensers and share the results. Also labeled “devious licks,” the trend also has included vandalism to lavatories, trophy cases and other school property, according to news reports from around the nation.

At Glastonbury High School, clogged toilets and vandalized paper towel dispensers have been linked to the challenge, Superintendent Alan Bookman said Thursday. Weston school officials sent a letter to parents after vandalism discovered Wednesday also was traced to the viral trend, The Hour newspaper of Norwalk reported.

“We are asking that you also speak with your children about the dangers and consequences of engaging in illicit acts and posting them on social media,” Interim Principal Juliane Givoni and School Resource Officer Joe Mogollon wrote.

Responding to The Courant’s request for comment Thursday, TikTok sent a statement: “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.”

The trend started on Sept. 1 when a TikTokker posted a video of what appeared to be a box of disposable masks stolen from a school, Newsweek reported Wednesday. Another user then posted a popular similar video with what appeared to be a bottle of hand sanitizer stolen from a school. The trend spread from there and began to include vandalism to bathrooms and other school property, according to news reports.

In Wilson County, Tennessee, Green Hill High School Principal Kevin Dawson sent a message to parents on Monday asking for their help.

“As you can imagine, this is both gross (pandemic, restroom germs, etc.) and frustrating for our custodial crew,” the message read. “I also do not have an abundance of extra soap dispensers lying around, so the likelihood of not having access to soap in a restroom increases with this ridiculous behavior.”

The database, knowyourmeme.com has a chronology of the trend, which also has included college students, describing the millions of views some videos have attracted, including one of a student showing off a stolen microscope.

TikTok has come under fire for inspiring other dangerous and illicit trends. The milk crate challenge, for example, had people stacking the plastic containers and then trying to climb and walk across the shaky structures.

Jesse Leavenworth can be reached at jleavenworth@courant.com