A new TikTok craze encouraging students to steal or damage school property has found its way to Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 and two middle schools, and school officials have asked parents to step in and talk to their children to help end the destruction.
The viral video trend, which has taken over the TikTok social media platform and uses the hashtag “devious licks,” has prompted teens across the country to target school bathrooms, damaging soap dispensers, toilet paper holders and more.
In the last two weeks, OPRF students have “ripped off” more than 100 soap dispensers from the walls of the high school’s restrooms, said Karin Sullivan, director of communications and community relations. They have also tried to remove the bathroom stall doors, pull hand dryers and toilet paper holders off the walls and purposely urinate beyond the toilet, she said.
Sullivan said the acts of vandalism have mostly occurred in the boys’ restrooms.
“It’s very disheartening to see the school property being treated this way, but even more than that, [it is] creating extra work for our buildings and grounds [staff],” she said. “It really shows a lack of respect for them and the pride that they take in keeping the school clean and operational. They do a phenomenal job.”
The same incidents have also transpired at two Oak Park District 97 middle schools, Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School and Percy Julian Middle School.
Amanda Siegfried, senior director of communications, said soap dispensers and full rolls of toilet paper were placed in the toilets at Brooks and Julian. Garbage from a bathroom’s waste bins was found “shoved into a toilet,” wrote Julian Principal Jeremy Christian in a letter sent home last week, notifying parents of the incidents and pleading for help.
Christian wrote that through social media, he was able to catch five students who vandalized the school’s bathrooms, and does not condone this type of behavior, which is “unsafe and unsanitary.”
To the schools’ knowledge, no items have been reported stolen at Brooks, and any items stolen at Julian have been returned, Siegfried said. She also said that the incidents began tapering off last this week.
Lynda Parker, OPRF assistant superintendent and principal, sent a similar letter home to parents earlier last week.
In the letter, Parker wrote she was saddened to see this “happening during a time when having soap available for handwashing is also a critical mitigation associated with diminishing the spread of COVID. It is unfortunate that this is a trend that has picked up traction with some students.”
“It has proven to be destructive and costly as our custodial staff works to keep up with the cleanup and replacement of products in these spaces,” she wrote. “While many students may think this is a harmless prank, it is theft/vandalism and will carry the consequences of such.”
Sullivan said school officials have yet to catch or identify any students who have committed acts of theft or vandalism or view TikTok videos.
“We really expect our students to behave better than this, and we really need our parents to partner with us and reinforce these expectations,” she said. “This is their school. Why do you want to destroy what is your home for so many hours a day?”