“Devious Licks” vandalism trend sweeps through BHS

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DTBHS Vandalism. Photo: Owen Jolly

Owen Jolly, Staff Writer

On a seemingly quiet Wednesday afternoon, a frantic teacher rushed into BHS Principal Lauren McBride’s office. He was there to alert her that multiple students had just been caught ripping down soap dispensers in the first-floor bathroom. 

The students are part of a larger trend, originating on TikTok, known as “Devious Licks.” Students wait until no one is looking and quickly take something from the school, such as soap dispensers and classroom signs. They then post the videos of their stolen goods on TikTok, many of which get millions of likes and hundreds of shares and comments. 

“It is really weird to grow up at a time when you see somebody literally stealing something from their school and then getting 3 million likes,” BHS Senior Kelemua Summa said. 

 BHS Principal Lauren McBride is frustrated by the students’ actions. 

 “[The vandal’s] roles actually have an impact beyond just being a funny trend online,” McBride said. “It has a detrimental impact on all of our students, all of our faculty, all of our staff.”

Janitors throughout BHS have been left to clean up the vandals’ damage. They unclog and refill the damaged areas, just to be called again minutes later. The work is starting to affect their cleaning schedules.

“We have a routine and because somebody decides they want to be mean, we have to re-track, and then get back onto our routine,” BHS Janitor Mary Gordon said. “It’s very difficult to do.” 

Vandalism is not new for the janitorial staff.

“Vandalism always happens, students have a tendency,” Gordon said. “But I feel like this is actually being encouraged by their peers, which is making it worse.” 

There are a lot of classes around me; I didn’t want to walk into a random class,”

— Junior Marissa Johnson

 

The vandalization has also negatively influenced students’ learning. Junior Marissa Johnson had issues finding the technical support area of the school since classroom numbers had been stolen throughout the building.  

“There are a lot of classes around me; I didn’t want to walk into a random class,” Johnson said. 

McBride sent out an email expressing her feelings on the trend to the BHS student body two weeks ago after the incidents had reached an all-time high. 

“I cannot stress enough how utterly disappointing this is,” she said in the email. “I would not expect high school age students to engage in such immature and disrespectful behavior.” 

McBride aims for students to feel safe letting staff members know if they have seen an incident occur. 

“We want to try and support those who see something to say something,” she said. 

McBride also hopes to discover students’ motivation. 

“Some of the things that we have been doing with them has been to understand the why,” McBride said. “What is their ‘why’? What is causing them to decide to engage in these types of acts of vandalism?” 

Summa called attention to the pressure students feel to live up to certain images during their transition from child to adult as a reason for the trend’s prevalence. 

I don’t expect the administrators to be kind to the people that they catch destroying parts of the school, but I do kind of hope they have a little bit of empathy towards that [pressure],” Summa said. 

McBride is now looking towards the future. 

“I’m hopeful that with knowledge of the immaturity [of this trend], that students can make better choices, and that our school can rally around BHS,” McBride said.