BOUNTIFUL, Utah — A Bountiful mom is warning other parents after her son found out the hard way about the very serious consequences of a TikTok challenge sweeping social media.
Schools are taking measures into their own hands to stop the viral "devious licks" trend, but they are also asking for parents to help.
The videos usually portray students stealing property from school, from teachers, or from fellow students. The items could be as small as a pair of scissors or a wallet, or as large as items like a whole toilet or set of lockers.
The caption on the TikTok video can read something like, "Only 3 weeks in and they got the most insane devious lick," or "just hit the most ungodly lick," or "absolutely diabolical lick at school today."
Videos show damaged or destroyed school bathrooms, classrooms and hallways. In many videos, kids open their backpacks and pull out items like printers, bathroom hand dryers and laptops — insinuating that they stole those items.
But schools and school districts have had enough.
Now, parents and students are finding out those actions come with serious consequences.
"I just went through a 60-hour workweek; I didn't know this was a thing," said a Bountiful Junior High mother named Cassie, who wanted to keep her last name private. "It kind of blindsided me."
Cassie's son was suspended a week ago from his school, she explained. He tried to pass it off as a "no big deal" two-day suspension at first, but Cassie said the school's vice principal called and told her husband the issue was a bigger deal than that.
The seventh-grader pretended to take a toilet paper roll holder from the bathroom, putting it in his backpack in the TikTok video. Cassie said she has not seen the video, but from her understanding, her son did not actually steal or destroy the toilet paper roll holder. He put it back, she said, without damaging it. He was with other friends at the time, and she said those boys also did the same thing — pretending to take the toilet paper roll holder — and they also got in trouble.
By Wednesday, the 12-year-old was still suspended, and the district held a hearing to conduct a policy review.
Her son was suspended for a total of five days, Cassie said. The school slapped him with a safe school violation on top of that.
"They said, 'If he gets another safe school violation before he graduates, that's kind of it for him education-wise,'" she recounted of her meeting with the school Friday. "It's a big, big deal. These kids are getting into a lot of trouble. I've heard of kids having to pay hundreds of dollars in restitution already. I don't think they realize what they're doing."
Some schools have sent emails to parents, warning them of the crime and consequences while urging them to speak with their children.
Hillside Elementary parents in West Valley City received an email Friday, explaining that property in the 5th and 6th-grade bathrooms is being vandalized, stolen and destroyed.
The email said the destruction is expensive to fix.
"We need your assistance in helping our students understand that such acts are criminal (a class B misdemeanor) and such damage to schools is a burden to taxpayers and takes away from the welcoming and safe facility we are working to provide to our students," the email reads. "Such acts will be aggressively investigated and charged and invariably, when convicted, students and families will be responsible to compensate for the damages."
Granite School District, where Hillside Elementary is located, sent out a district-wide email to parents as well with the same warnings.
"Within the last week alone, we have seen a significant spike in vandalism at several school locations and damage done at almost every jr. high and high school," it says.
The district told FOX 13 that staff at Hunter High School took measures like locking some of the bathroom doors to block access where the issues were occurring and removed some other bathroom doors to keep access but deter the behavior.
The district added that the school verified and followed safety standards for privacy when removing the doors. They said there was an overwhelming issue with the male restrooms, so only doors on male restrooms were removed.
Canyons School District also told FOX 13 they've been having issues at nearly every junior high and high school, and that the vandalism and theft could lead to criminal charges and fines. They said it is costing thousands of dollars to replace or fix stolen soap and towel dispensers, exit signs, bathroom and locker room mirrors, damage to toilets, plus putting undue stress and extra work on custodial staff to clean it all up.
Cassie said Bountiful Junior High never gave parents a heads up on the behavior.
"I wish they had sent out some sort of warning or some sort of notification, because I only found out about it after the fact," she said.
She's now warning other parents to talk to their kids before this trend gets them in serious trouble.
"Don't do it," she said. "Don't get caught up in the hype."