‘Not an Innocent Prank': San Diego County Schools on Alert Due to Criminal TikTok Trend

Students who participate in the "challenge" with thefts and vandalism will face penalties, punishment for their actions


A popular trend on social media platform TikTok has San Diego County school districts staying vigilant against crimes students may commit as part of the “challenge.”

The nationwide viral “devious licks” challenge features students showcasing items like wet floor signs, hand sanitizer dispensers, microscopes and other things supposedly stolen from school properties. The videos, which began to circulate online last month, have since been banned from the platform.

The social media move became a big enough concern for Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools, to send a warning on Wednesday to all school districts of theft and vandalism being committed in person due to the trend.

Interim Superintendent Lucile Lynch of the San Dieguito Union High School District said in a letter to parents and guardians that schools in her district “have already sustained damage.”

“Our buildings are meant to be a safe, clean space for our students and staff, and we will not tolerate the destruction and theft of school property,” Lynch’s statement read. “Replacing these items is very costly and takes precious time away from other priorities. Beyond this, our custodial team works very hard to serve our student population and keep our campuses clean and safe, especially with the increased risks from COVID-19.”

Music Watson of the San Diego County Office of Education sent us the following statement:

"...We don’t have any role in working with law enforcement on potential charges for any students identified as being involved. Penalties/punishments would vary depending on the value of items taken or damaged and on the district’s or charter’s disciplinary policies."

In an effort to cease the challenge, TikTok said it would take down videos that follow the trend and have made its respective hashtag unsearchable. The social media giant said content like that violated its guidelines.

"We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities," a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to NBC News. "We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior."

Local schools have not detailed what kind of impact they’ve had as a result of students following the “challenge.” Lynch ended her statement with a call to action for all parents and guardians.

“Please consider speaking with your children about the appropriate use of technology and being socially responsible and kind, and remind them that this ‘challenge’ is criminal behavior, not an innocent prank,” she said.

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