Students got a return to some normalcy after going back to school in person this school year, but there's another dimension of the "new normal" that administrators are cautioning parents about, and hoping to phase out fast—social media challenges that entice kids to do inappropriate and even illegal things.
In two popular challenges circulating, students are invited to record their actions and share them on TikTok; in "Devious Licks," it's stealing or vandalizing school property, and in the "October Challenge," it's slapping a teacher or staff member.
In Florida, students have been arrested, and in Kentucky students have been charged with vandalism or theft. Locally, administrators at Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and North Salinas High School sent letters to parents to warn them about these viral trends.
Devious Licks started on Sept. 1 and has featured video of students stealing objects—face masks, bathroom mirrors, soap—and vandalizing school property—posted with the the hashtags #deviouslicks or #diabolicallicks. On Sept. 15, TikTok banned videos under the trend. (At the time, there were over 94,000 videos, according to the website Know Your Meme.
MPUSD issued a statement on Sept. 28 that reads, in part: "We have seen destruction and theft of school property."
The same day, North Salinas High School Principal Mary White sent a letter to parents and guardians alerting them about the October Challenge, and reiterating that student conduct that endangers other students or teachers, including physical violence, "may be subject to discipline, including but not limited to suspension or expulsion.
"It is important for parents to know that a student assault on a staff member could also result in civil penalties for parents,” White added.
On different social media platforms, a list of "challenges" for each month of the school year is circulating. This includes making a mess in the cafeteria, skipping school, jabbing women's breasts and more offensive conduct.
Administrators are encouraging parents to talk with their children and discourage them from participating in these challenges and others like them.