A viral TikTok challenge which encourages pupils to steal items from their school has been blamed for a spate of vandalism at Monifieth High.
The school’s depute head teacher Kathleen Ritchie is urging parents to help get to the bottom of the behaviour, thought to be caused by the ‘devious licks’ trend.
The craze emerged from the US earlier this month and sees pupils going on to the social media platform to boast about the equipment they have stolen.
Stateside schools have suspended pupils caught participating in the challenge and the trend now appears to be affecting local schools in Scotland.
What is the ‘devious licks’ challenge?
Devious licks can include anything from students ripping paper towel holders from bathroom walls to stealing classroom resources such as textbooks.
Some videos also see school toilets vandalised as mirrors are smashed and toilets are intentionally clogged with soaps and other stolen items.
Monifieth High, in Angus, has had toilets damaged and equipment taken from classrooms, the school has reported.
In a letter to parents, Ms Ritchie said: “The [devious licks] craze has been brought to our attention and most likely has been responsible for several incidents of damage to the toilets in school recently.
“We have also been made aware of items being removed/stolen from classrooms.
“Can we please ask all of you to talk to your children about this and pass on any information which may be useful to us?”
What action is TikTok taking?
TikTok moderators have been limiting the content and its associated hashtags, including #deviouslicks and #devious in an effort to crack down on the obstructive behaviour.
When searching for the videos, users are met with a message from the platform’s guidelines which says the phrase may be associated with “behaviour or content that violates guidelines”.
We expect our community to create responsibly – online and IRL. We're removing content and redirecting hashtags & search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior. Please be kind to your schools & teachers. pic.twitter.com/mIFtsYwFRb
— TikTokComms (@TikTokComms) September 15, 2021
A TikTok spokesperson said: “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 behaviour.”
It is understood, however, that the videos are still appearing on the site using similar keywords or intentionally misspelling ‘devious licks’.
It is not the first time viral TikTok challenges have caused controversy as children were admitted to hospital after ingesting tiny magnetics which aimed to give viewers the illusion they had a real tongue piercing.