TikTok trend may result in felony charges, legal expert says, after St. Johns schools report damage

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A trend on the popular social media app, TikTok, could have students in serious trouble.

It’s called “Devious Licks,” and encourages students to steal items from their school and vandalize property -- all while posting on social media.

The St. Johns County School District tells Action News Jax a bathroom was damaged at Fruit Cove Middle School, and another incident happened at Bartram Trail High School.

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The trend isn’t exclusive to Florida. It’s sweeping the nation. Students are seen on video taking school property like benches and soap dispensers -- even ripping sinks off walls.

“My jaw just dropped,” Fruit Cove Middle School mom Katie Johnston said. “I can’t understand how these kids act like this and how they think it’s okay to act like this.”

Johnston and parents at Bartram Trail High School received letters from school administrators warning them of the trend:

“Dear parent/guardian(s), There is a social media challenge going around TikTok (called devious lick) that encourages students to steal or vandalize their school and then post a picture or a video of it happening in order to get attention and more “likes” on social media.

“This happened at BTHS this week and we are beyond disappointed. Several of our bathrooms were vandalized and items have been stolen out of classrooms. We need your help.

“Please take a few minutes this evening to discuss this ‘challenge’ as we all know it is destructive to our school and the consequences are very serious for this type of behavior. We want our students to come to our school and focus on learning and growing into positive young adults.

“This ‘challenge’ is hurtful to our school environment and to our students. We appreciate your partnership as we will continue to focus our students’ decisions on the six pillars of character. Thank you, BTHS Administration”

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Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson says adolescents still don’t fully understand consequences; this trend could get them in serious trouble.

“When one of these young people is arrested for a felony charge, there’s this view that it won’t affect your adulthood, but that’s not true, it will,” Carson explained.

A spokesperson for St. Johns County School District says each incident will be evaluated case-by-case. Consequences will be based on a student’s age. The district says the sheriff’s office may even get involved, as some of the incidents have reached criminal levels.

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“Potential criminal prosecution will stain your future in a way that can never be erased,” Carson said.

Johnston believes the unruly students need punishment.

“It can’t just be a slap on the wrist by the teacher or the principal or even the parent. I think there needs to be some kind of repercussion,” she said.

She said she’s grateful her daughter has a good head on her shoulders.

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Action News Jax has asked school districts in Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties if they’ve had such incidents. Clay County Schools says it hasn’t had any incidents reported.

Duval County Public Schools said it is not aware of incidents in its schools related to the challenge, saying in part:

“We are aware of this social media challenge and are monitoring our campuses closely for any incidents. We’re not aware of any occurrences or any incidents related to this challenge at this time. Note that vandalism of any kind on our campuses or buses is a violation of our Student Code of Conduct and can result in serious disciplinary consequences.”

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