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Wis. schools warn of vandalism trend on social media

Around our region, officials from Cottage Grove to Baraboo are addressing the crime.
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 9:08 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - The latest social media trend is sweeping the nation, and inside our schools, it may be the cause of a crime.

The “devious licks” challenge, popular on the app TikTok, shows students vandalizing school property, particularly in bathrooms.

“It’s just frustrating,” Jason Julius, principal of Platteville Middle School, said. “You want to have pride in our schools, and you want the students to have pride in our schools.”

After hearing rumors about the trend late last week, Julius said he saw a video this week of a student taking the soap out of a school bathroom dispenser.

According to the district’s community resource officer Josh Stowe, Platteville High School also saw several cases of vandalism this week. He explained, he connects the crimes to the viral challenge due to the timing.

“These are thefts and damaging property, so there are legal consequences as well as school consequences,” Stowe said.

Around our region, officials from Cottage Grove to Baraboo are addressing the crime. As far as discipline, Baraboo police warned of “zero tolerance,” according to a Facebook post, as well as a potential $213 fine.

In the Janesville district, where spokesperson Patrick Gasper confirmed some cases of vandalism at Craig High School, the maximum consequence could lead to expulsion. Other disciplinary acts for vandalism, as stated in the district handbook, include payment for damage or loss or property, police referral and out-of-school suspension.

Gasper wrote to NBC15, “We cannot say for certain that what we have seen at one school here in SDJ [School District of Janesville] is part of the Devious Licks trend on TikTok.”

He continued, “While Craig High School has seen (like any school does) some vandalism, and that it may mimic what is being done with Devious Licks, the school admin sent a message to parents, essentially trying to nip this in the bud -- asking parents to remind their children about responsible use of social media.”

Platteville schools are asking parents for their help, saying lessons on social media should start at home.

“I think every learning opportunity should be taken serious, and so when you have that chance for a student to make a poor decision, I think it’s an opportunity for growth,” Julius said.

At this point, if TikTok users search “devious” or “devious licks” on the app, an error page will appear saying “This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines.”

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