It’s time to demand an end to Devious Licks

Senseless, nationwide TikTok trend needlessly adds to custodians’ already demanding pandemic workload


Emma Hagood

Custodian Kenneth Sterling collects trash from students during lunch. Sterling along with other members of the custodial staff have been a group primarily affected by the ‘Devious Lick’ trend at McCallum. The vandalism occurring leads to more work for a staff already overworked from additional cleaning measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The vandalism is really not good at all. It makes my job harder. People keep stealing soap dispensers… we’ve been locking the restrooms, that helps. Beyond that there’s not much we can do. I would like the tagging and vandalism to stop.”

Shield editorial board

Whether it be 8 a.m. or 8 p.m., when a student walks onto campus, chances are they’ll see a McCallum custodian hard at work. Now, on top of their already extensive workload, they are faced with a new trend that has wreaked havoc on campus: The ‘Devious Lick’ TikTok trend. 

This viral 2021 social media trend involves students videoing themselves stealing and vandalizing items from their schools, primarily in the bathrooms. McCallum students’ participation in the ‘Devious Lick’ trend has led to several campus bathroom shutdowns, impairing students from having convenient access to facilities. 

The actions of these students are an act of attention-seeking behavior. The stealing and vandalizing of the school items are not acts of desperation or necessity. According to McCallum’s demographics, only 21% of McCallum students are economically disadvantaged; therefore, a large percentage of our community lives comfortable lives. This behavior coming from largely privileged students is nauseating as it displays a continued pattern of entitlement, disrespect, and inconsideration towards McCallum’s custodial staff, faculty and even their fellow peers. Further, the actions of the students participating in the ‘Devious Lick’ trend contribute to a poor representation of the youth in the local community and even on a national level. This unacceptable behavior must stop being dismissed and propped up as a joke. Custodians are already underpaid and have highly demanding jobs with long hours and the disregard for their work is selfish and entitled. 

41,852,838 American adolescent brains have come together to steal a toilet seat, soap dispensers, and a bathroom stall.

Some may argue that this behavior could be an outcome of the pandemic’s effect on teens entering high school. This year’s freshman never got an opportunity to have an in-person eighth-grade experience, an experience that typically offers preparation for the high school’s lack of tolerance for disruptive behaviors. Furthermore, sophomores were never able to experience their freshman year, which is an essential developmental step, since freshman year drills in the expectations, values and behavior that are permitted in high school. It also helps with the growth of the student’s maturity because they learn that while high school offers more freedoms compared to middle school, in order to earn those privileges, you must act respectfully and appropriately in an academic environment.

‘Devious Licks’ becomes even more saddening when we realize just how misplaced teenager’s priorities are. The adolescence of our country have utilized resources like social media to mobilize a nationwide movement which has resulted in pointless and damaging action. 41,852,838 American adolescent brains have come together to steal a toilet seat, soap dispensers and a bathroom stall.

The nationwide participation in devious licks proves the extensive influence social media has on teenagers. It begs the question: if social media’s influence can be used to cause such poor behavior among teenagers, can’t it also have the opposite effects? Imagine a reality where the young generations collaborated on this national level to achieve something resourceful with positive outcomes. Much could be accomplished if all of this momentum and passion was poured into a relevant issue like climate change or homelessness initiatives. We’re living in a brave new world where one teenager has the ability to call out to thousands of people via social media. We can and must do better.