Carlsbad Municipal Schools fell victim to a social media challenge that encouraged vandalism in middle and high schools across the country.
“Several incidents of theft and vandalism have occurred in our schools in the past few days and we will not tolerate this behavior in our school system,” said Carlsbad Municipal Schools Superintendent Dr. Gerry Washburn during his weekly announcement on Monday.
The trend, known as “devious licks,” rose to prominence on TikTok, a social media site focused on sharing short videos. “Lick” is a slang term for a “type of theft which results in an acceptable, impressive and rewarding payday for the protagonist,” according to UrbanDictionary.com.
Videos on the platform show students from across the U.S. stealing soap dispensers, microscopes and even toilet seats from their schools.
While the vandalism at Carlsbad schools has not been as severe, Washburn told the Current-Argus the district wanted to get ahead of the problem before it got worse.
He said most of the damage occurred at Carlsbad High School and PR Leyva Carlsbad Intermediate School, but was nominal. Some of the items that were taken include bathroom fixtures, a vape sensor and a toilet paper dispenser.
CMS is monitoring cameras in hallways and entrances to bathrooms to prevent further damage, Washburn said in the announcement.
He said the district’s maintenance and custodial staff have been working constantly to repair the damage done to school bathrooms because of the trend.
According to the CMS Student Handbook theft, vandalism and other criminal activities are prohibited and can lead to disciplinary actions. This can include a written notifications to parents, detention, involuntary transfer, community service, suspension and even expulsion.
Students may also be required pay restitution or be referred to legal authorities and face charges. According to the handbook, disciplinary action is handled on a case-by-case basis depending on the severity of the violation and if a student has a history of incidents.
TikTok banned the trend recently. A search of the term “devious licks” on the platform now sends user to this message: “This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines. Promoting a safe and positive experience is TikTok’s top priority. For more information, we invite you to review our Community Guidelines.”
The trend started in early September according to the Know Your Meme site, after a user posted a video of themselves stealing disposable masks with the caption “a month into school absolutely devious lick. Should’ve brought a mask from home.”
While videos have now been removed from TikTok, compilations can still be found on YouTube.
During his announcement Washburn pleaded to parents to help put an end to the destruction.
“Please talk to your students and help us keep them from making the poor choices that are being encouraged by this latest social media challenge,” Washburn said.
Claudia Silva is a reporter from the UNM Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected], by phone at 575-628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.