PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A viral social media challenge is encouraging students to steal from schools or damage property. The challenge has made its way to Arizona, with several school districts sounding the alarm to parents. It's called the 'Devious Licks' challenge and students all across the Valley have allegedly been participating, filming themselves stealing or damaging school property.
Everything from paper towel dispensers to speed limit signs to fire alarms have been taken. Law enforcement calls it theft, but on TikTok, the students call it the 'Devious Licks' challenge. The brazen and incriminating recordings are part of a viral trend that districts from Peoria to Mesa are warning parents about. "If there is something idiotic to be spread on the internet, it will spread everywhere," said Barrett Marson, whose son attends Hamilton High School, where students were allegedly stealing soap dispensers from the bathrooms.
"At least they're not eating Tide Pods," said Marson.
The issue at Hamilton has gotten so bad that the principal sent a letter to parents, warning them that if their kid was caught there will be "a school suspension, full restitution and a police report."
Some wonder what could possibly be going through these kids' heads. "Not a lot," says Valley parent and teen relationship coach Vanessa Baker. She says she doesn't condone the behavior but said most of us have done something stupid as teens.
"Kids used to streak at football games, but this is that now. You see me smiling but I think its terrible; nobody wants their stuff ruined," said Baker. She said kids will be kids, trying to fit in and not making the best decisions with brains that aren't fully formed.
But Baker also said there could be other, deeper reasons why teens might be doing the 'Devious Licks' challenge, and suggests parents keep an open line of communication. "This could be a message you need to hear, and yeah, it can come from a crazy TikTok trend," said Baker. "And I wouldn't save my kid from one consequence that comes from their actions."
Sure, we've seen kids act dumb before with online challenges like eating Tide Pods and licking ice cream in stores, but Marson said when you're talking about crime in schools, it's a whole different level of stupidity. "Generations of kids have been stupid but this is incredibly stupid," said Marson.
Arizona's Family has confirmed that Cactus Shadows High School, Hamilton High School, San Tan Heights, the Peoria Unified School District and Mesa Public Schools have all seen issues with 'Devious Licks' Tiktok challenge.
A spokesperson for TikTok provided the following statement regarding the recent trend:
"We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior."