By Kevin Deutsch
Broward County Public Schools interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright on Wednesday condemned the “Devious Licks” TikTok challenges as “disturbing” after Coral Springs Talk revealed that the trend spurred vandalism in Coral Springs.
When a student trashes property or steals as part of the trend, costs related to the destruction or theft will be billed to their parents or guardians, Cartwright said, in addition to their facing disciplinary measures from the district and law enforcement.
“Recently, there have been two TikTok challenges posted that are extremely alarming,” Cartwright said in a video about the trend shared by the school district on Twitter Wednesday. “One is to vandalize school facilities, while the second is to steal from your teacher. Not only are the challenges disturbing, but they are asking for our youths to participate in criminal and possible life-changing events.”
@browardschools families, staff and community. Please watch the announcement from @suptvcartwright relating to the recent trend that originated from the TikTok social media platform encouraging students to steal or vandalize school property. pic.twitter.com/T5W1mUdkls
— Broward Schools (@browardschools) September 22, 2021
Cartwright said the school district had been the victim of “severe vandalism” by students who damaged school bathrooms over the past few days.
“Multiple schools have had soap dispensers and exit signs ripped off the walls, urinals removed, and ceiling tiles damaged,” said Cartwright, who did not specify which schools were impacted. “Not only are our camera systems recording these events, but students themselves are recording it and posting the criminal act online for everyone to see.”
Known as Devious Licks, the video-sharing trend has impacted schools from coast to coast, spurring damage to scores of bathrooms and particularly soap dispensers at a time when they are needed to fight COVID-19. Among the victims was Renaissance Charter School in Coral Springs, school administrators previously said.
“Just today, we had a situation in our bathrooms of damaging property,” Renaissance Charter said in a Sept. 17 Facebook post, which included a note from Principal Lynette Self. “This will not be tolerated, nor is it acceptable.”
The damage at Renaissance Charter follows an Aug. 25 incident of criminal mischief at Eagle Ridge Elementary in Coral Springs, where two students damaged the boys’ restroom in Building 1, police said.
According to a Coral Springs Police incident report, the students “removed the door handle from the inside of the bathroom. Together, they destroyed the soap dispensers and flushed multiple items down the toilet, which caused it to flood the bathroom.”
The estimated cost of the damage was under $100, and prosecution of the students was waived, the report states.
In another bathroom vandalism incident, graffiti was written on the women’s bathroom, and batteries were stolen from the bathroom soap dispensers at Tamarac Sports Complex, 9901 NW 77th St., on Sept. 7, according to Broward Sheriff’s Office records.
Authorities did not allude to the TikTok challenge in their narratives of the incidents.
In Wednesday’s video message, Cartwright asked students to “talk to your friends to make sure that everyone understands the potential consequences in a criminal social media challenge.”
She also encouraged parents to monitor their children’s social media.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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