TikTok trend turns from vandalism to assault

Tulare County Sheriff’s Office warns of new social media trend asking students to slap or smack the backside of teachers and school staff

TULARE COUNTY – Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux is alerting adults about a new TikTok challenge this month and warning juveniles about the consequences.

Last Thursday, the Sheriff posted on Facebook about a new “devious lick” challenge originating from the social media platform TikTok encouraging students to walk up and “slap a teacher” or “smack a staff member” before running away but not before capturing it on video.

“If you act like a criminal, you’ll be treated like one,” the Sheriff’s Office stated in the post. “Stealing from your school is theft. Slapping a teacher is assault. Plain and simple. It will NOT be tolerated. And you WILL be held accountable for your actions.”

Last month the TikTok trend encouraged students to vandalize bathrooms or steal something, such as soap dispensers and toilet paper from the bathrooms at their school. On Sept. 11 and 12, Cutler-Orosi Joint Union School District reported several incidents of vandalism to school property, specifically to restroom areas and drinking faucets at Orosi High school, El Monte Middle school and the Orosi Sports Complex. A few days later, deputies arrested a 15-year-old female student for her involvement in the crimes.

“The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office wants students and parents to be aware of these types of social media dangers if students take part in them. Their actions WILL be treated as criminal activity and they will face consequences,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote in a released statement.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is urged to contact Dep. Burciaga at the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at 1-800-808-0488, anonymously at [email protected], or by text or voicemail at 559-725-4194.

“When it comes to these TikTok challenges- Be Smart. Don’t Start!,” the Sheriff’s Office posted.

TikTok took down the “deviouslicks” hashtag on Sept. 15 saying that the videos violated its terms of service. It also posted the following on Twitter: “We expect our community to create responsibly—online and [in real life],” the company wrote on Twitter. “We’re removing content and redirecting hashtags & search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior. Please be kind to your schools & teachers.” Unfortunately, the social media platform had difficulty identifying and removing all of the videos, and many of them made lists which students had long-since downloaded onto their devices.

The superintendent of Coalinga-Huron School District told CBS47 in Fresno on Sept. 20 that the district had to replace more than 40 soap dispensers over a three-day span due to student vandalism related to the TikTok trend at a cost of more than $20,000.

Other districts have found and shared with staff a list of these challenges that change monthly through next July. The list of monthly challenges include students flashing their genitalia, poking someone’s breast, defacing school signs, making a mess in the cafeteria and spray painting a neighbor’s fence. Visalia Unified reported students were also engaging in challenges to eat items that are resulting in students needing medical treatment due to severe illness, vomiting, seizing and even loss of consciousness.

“Students that engage in such conduct—whether on school grounds, during lunch on or off campus, or while going to or from school may result in formal disciplinary action depending on the circumstances,” Visalia Unified stated in a Sept. 23 message. “Disciplinary measures may include: alternative means of correction, detention, suspension, legal action and/or expulsion depending on the circumstance of their behavior and involvement.”

Visalia Unified is offering up to a $1,000 reward for any information on vandals who damage or steal school property.

The district asking students and parents who witness unsafe things going on at Visalia schools to call the Safe Schools Helpline at 730-7999, call the WeTip line at 1-800-782-7463 or visit wetip.com. Parents can also report activity to the school district by email, phone or using PowerSchool, the district’s online platform for students to report school-related issues.

“In an effort to prevent the negative impact of these trends and future trends, we encourage you to monitor your student(s) Social Media Activity and speak with them about the dangers, risks and potential consequences associated with such behavior and or encouragement of such behavior,” Visalia Unified concluded in its message to parents.

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