Sep. 21—A national social media trend to plunder school restrooms has made its way to at least two more Western Pennsylvania school districts, officials at Hempfield Area and Highlands school districts reported.
The "Devious Licks" TikTok challenge dares children to vandalize schools — in most cases, bathrooms — and nab items such as soap dispensers and toilet paper rolls as showpieces to post on social media.
Damage has ranged from thefts of masks, microscopes, fire extinguishers, water fountains and bathroom stall doors all across the country. In Georgia, a student tried to unbolt a urinal from a school bathroom, according to Atlanta's
Videos of the "licks" were racking up millions of views before being banned from the popular app.
On Monday, state police at Greensburg said they are investigating vandalism at a Hempfield Area High School bathroom apparently related to a TikTok challenge. Police released photos showing where a mirror and a soap dispenser were removed.
Police indicated two students were involved.
"You are talking about criminal mischief, but it's really institutional vandalism and it's even more severe," Trib news partner WPXI-TV quoted Trooper Steve Limani as saying. He indicated the students could be arrested.
Hempfield Area Superintendent Tammy Wolicki confirmed the incident happened Friday.
Parents received a letter Monday from Matt Conner, assistant superintendent for secondary education, alerting them about TikTok challenges that promote destruction and theft of school property.
In addition to the "Devious Licks" challenge, Hempfield officials also called attention to a "Bathroom Challenge," wherein the student who causes the most damage in a school day is declared the "winner."
Conner asked parents to "reiterate to your son or daughter the importance of not bowing to peer pressure and of respecting school property."
He said consequences for students who vandalize school property could include "possible referral to law enforcement for prosecution for criminal mischief, compensation for damages and a possible suspension."
At Highlands, middle school Principal Kim Price said the behavior won't be tolerated.
"When TikTok challenges destroy, we teach and give consequences," Price said in a message delivered to parents Friday.
It was not clear how many incidents occurred at the school or how much damage was caused. It also was not clear whether the damage was limited to the middle school.
Price was not immediately available for comment.
In her memo, Price said, "We saw some damage and addressed this by teaching and reteaching our expectations."
The district is investigating. Punishments will be doled out, Price said.
She encouraged families to discuss the destructive challenge and similar behaviors with their students.
"We are teaching, practicing, modeling and reinforcing what we expect from our students and each other," she said. "It will only work well if we are working as a community to teach our children."