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Latest TikTok trend arrives in Alaska schools

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Schools across Alaska are dealing with acts of vandalism related to a popular trend on the social media platform TikTok called Devious Licks. Devious Lick is a nationwide trend in which students steal and even destroy items from school and film it for TikTok. In September, TikTok removed the hashtag #DeviousLicks. However, some students are still posting videos using hashtags with alternate spellings, but it does seem that TikTok is banning each of those videos once they get popular.

The trend hit Alaska schools hard, which resulted in dozens of acts of vandalism. According to a story in the Anchorage Daily News, the Anchorage School District already had over 75 “licks,” including a sink that was stolen from a bathroom. There were some incidents that happened in Fairbanks, like when a soap dispenser was stolen from the girls bathroom at Lathrop High School and several paper towel dispensers were damaged and taken at West Valley High School.

Schools have set punishments for students caught doing the vandalism, but their punishment would depend on the extent of the damage. For example, if it’s something easily cleanable, then the students would be cleaning it, and may have extra things to clean up. However, if there are major damages like sinks and toilets broken in schools, then police would be involved. Some students in other states have been arrested for being part of the Devious Licks trend. Nothing that major has happened in Alaska yet, but there is a chance it will if the trend continues.

As a student of Lathrop High School, I am against this trend like many others, but even though this trend is either starting or increasing vandalism in schools, we need to see both perspectives of the trend, which includes the side of the students doing the viral challenge and the side of who or what is being effected by the trend.

Students who are participating in the challenge have their reasons for doing it. It could be to get attention or to top their friends. Whatever the reasons, we need to remember that these students are not just teenagers, but also younger students as well, who could be going through things in their personal or school lives. When students go through things, they tend to get caught off guard and do things they know are wrong. As a student myself, I have seen many kinds of students like this and most of them are close friends of mine.

The trend effects the schools that are having things taken from them, and it could cost them a fortune. Schools are paid for with tax payer money. Anytime something gets destroyed or damaged, the schools and even the district would have to fix it, but some schools may not even have enough money due to Covid. However, some school principals have decided that when students are caught breaking items like paper towel holders, then they and parents or guardians would be responsible for replacing the items. If the student isn’t caught and if the schools can’t replace them, then it could leave a mark on the school and and could run out of items like sanitizing dispensers that both staff members and students use due to the rise in Covid cases.

Most schools have encouraged families to talk about the consequences of Devious Licks with their students, which proved to be helpful. According to Heather Johnson, principal of Tanana Middle School, her school was fortunate during the TikTok craze and didn’t have any issues. Ms. Johnson mentioned that she sent a bulletin home to parents informing them of the issue and thinks that it helped not having anything damaged or stolen from the school.

It appears that the Devious Licks trends may be going away, in Fairbanks at least. There is still a chance that students in the future could start doing the trend again. To me, the trend is like Covid — the number of students doing the challenge goes down for a bit, and then it starts to rise again. Whether students start or continue the challenge in their schools, they should be aware of the consequences ahead of them and the schools should keep an eye out for more Devious Licks.

Lehansa Fernando is a freshman at Lathrop High School.

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