A troubling trend that has school officials across the country asking parents for help over vandalism inspired by a social media challenge has started popping up in districts in the Cadillac area.
The TikTok challenge is known as “devious licks” has included reports of students smashing up bathroom mirrors and sinks and stealing soap dispensers and even turf from sports fields at rival schools. Locally, both Cadillac Area Public Schools and McBain Rural Agricultural Schools principals have issued statements to families regarding the issue.
On Sept. 19, Mackinaw Trail Middle School Principal Matt Brown posted on the school’s Facebook page that asked parents to stay involved with their child’s educational process and development socially, emotionally and educationally. It also linked an NPR story of the issues associated with the challenge.
Brown said in the post that this type of destruction and vandalism is happening across the nation and in local schools.
He also asked parents to check their child’s social media and to remind their child to report any destruction that they witness to the office.
Brown also said in the post parents should remind their children how to be polite and responsible citizens and community members and that integrity is a trait to be valued.
On Sept. 21, McBain High School Principal Ryan Biller sent a letter out to the school community and parents stating the school has been dealing with what he called poor choices from students. He also said the school district believed that some students are participating in the devious licks challenge.
In the letter, Biller wrote, “Whether it be a cover of a pencil sharpener from a classroom, to stealing the soap container off the wall in the restroom, students here at McBain High School have been causing unfortunate extra work for our custodians and staff here at the school.”
In the letter, Biller also said the school has seen an uptick in vaping in both the girls’ and boys’ bathroom areas. On two separate occasions, Biller said in the letter that plumbers have been called to clear the sewer lines due to vaping devices being flushed down the toilets.
Like in Brown’s Facebook post, in his letter Biller asked parents and guardians to have conversations with their children regarding these types of destructive behaviors and encourage them to report it if they witness it happening.
Missaukee County Sheriff Wil Yancer said he saw the letter online and to his knowledge none of his deputies have taken any reports at the school regarding this behavior.
He also indicated the liaison officer at Lake City Area Schools has not had any reports regarding this type of behavior. However, Yancer said the liaison officer indicated he was contacted by custodial staff about minor vandalism but they didn’t believe it rose to the level of making a police report.
Yancer said this appears to be the latest example of another fad generated by social media. The reality is, however, these actions the students may deem as a prank could come back to haunt them.
“They are opening themselves up to theft or vandalism charges if the schools choose to pursue them,” he said.
Yancer also said the high school students, in particular, are reaching the age where they need to start taking responsibility for their actions and if they are charged as an adult it could be something that stays on their permanent criminal record.
Wexford County Sheriff Trent Taylor said he was aware of the challenge but no reports of this kind of activity have been taken by any deputies within the sheriff’s office.