Students Across the U.S. Face Criminal Charges After Participating in 'Devious Lick' TikTok Trend

Police are urging parents to talk to their teens about social media and "the seriousness of vandalism to school property"

School damage TikTok trend
Damage to school property at Chichester Park, located next to Stafford High School in Virginia. Photo: Stafford County Sheriff (2)

At least 13 students across the United States are facing criminal charges for their involvement in the popular "Devious Lick" challenge as authorities urge parents to speak to their teens.

On Friday, the Stafford County Sheriff's Office in Virginia announced that a teen student was facing criminal charges after vandalizing a park bathroom as part of the "Devious Lick" TikTok challenge.

The trend, which is also referred to as "Diabolical Licks" or "Dastardly Licks", involves students stealing or damaging items from school and then posting the videos onto TikTok.

The name is based on an Urban Dictionary definition, which claims that a "lick" is lingo for a "successful type of theft which results in an acceptable, impressive and rewarding payday for the protagonist."

Stafford County officials said they were called to Chichester Park, which is located next to Stafford High School in Fredericksburg, after receiving a report about a group of six students who had snuck off campus during lunch and were damaging the park bathroom.

One of the juveniles in the group ended up being charged for ripping a soap dispenser from the wall and damaging the bathroom door with a kick, while all six students are also facing punishment for leaving school grounds while class was in session, according to police.

"Again, we encourage parents to talk to their teens about social media and the seriousness of vandalism to school property," the police wrote in their Facebook post, alongside two photos of the damage caused by the student.

The incident marked one of the latest about a student facing consequences for their involvement in the viral trend.

In Arizona, also on Friday, the Bullhead City Police Department confirmed that they've arrested one 15-year-old student for stealing a school toilet paper dispenser.

That same day, the Boone County Sheriff's Office in Kentucky reported that eight juveniles from schools throughout the district were charged with offenses related to the challenge, including four with vandalism charges and four with theft charges, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Polk County Officials in Florida also have taken action, arresting at least three students for participating in the trend, according to CBS Tampa Bay.

Alicia Manautou, a spokesperson for the Polk County Sheriff's Office, told the outlet that those three are now being charged with theft and criminal mischief.

"When you participate in something that's damaging school property that taxpayers have paid for, then you've crossed that line and gone into a criminal act," Manautou said, per the outlet. "It could cause them to be removed from band or any other extracurricular activities they have. It could also potentially impact their ability to get a job."

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The Polk County Sheriff's Office also addressed the viral trend on Facebook Thursday, writing in a post: "Social media challenges are almost always a bad idea - people get hurt, people break the law, and those people end up going to the hospital or jail."

"There's only 100 days left until Christmas," they added. "Parents - remind your kids that Santa is watching (and so is Uncle Grady). We will not tolerate this criminal activity in our schools. Let's learn from others what NOT to do. Be safe, everyone."

Erin Maloney, a spokesperson for Hillsborough County Schools, told CBS Tampa Bay that the challenge has skyrocketed in the last two weeks, with "about 15 to 20 cases of vandalism within our schools."

"We can attribute it to that TikTok trend," Maloney said. "Kids look at social media and they see their friends doing things and they think it's funny but it's serious, you can get in trouble."

Though authorities are taking action, Maloney noted that their intentions are simply to educate and raise awareness so that teens will stop participating in the trend.

"We really don't want to ruin a kid's life over what they perceive to be a prank," Maloney told CBS Tampa Bay. "Our goal is to really educate them and let them know they are making bad choices and while this may seem like it's funny because your friends might be doing it online, vandalism is serious and we are going to treat it that way."

Last week, a spokesperson for TikTok confirmed in a statement to PEOPLE that they have removed any content related to the viral challenge and are discouraging behavior that "promotes or enables criminal activities."

Those who attempt to search "Devious Licks" on TikTok will now find an error message that reads, "No results found. This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines. Promoting a safe and positive experience is TikTok's top priority."

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