“Devious Licks Challenge” Takes Over Schools Across U.S.


The internet is home to many historic viral challenges, including that of the “Mannequin Challenge,” “Don’t Judge Me Challenge,” and the “Andy’s Coming Challenge.” All of these challenges initially got popular off of the social media platform Vine. For various reasons, Vine is no longer running, leaving room for the new platform TikTok to replace it. Since 2020 TikTok has become the number one social media platform globally, giving people more opportunities to share their videos and grow a following. The fast spike in popularity has also led to high influence on younger users. For example, TikTok has become the online place to get fashion advice, financial advising, and skincare tutorials. It’s also the birthplace of many memorable dances and challenges that anyone can participate in. Along with these influences, TikTok also features trends that have blown up in recent years, including “Respect the Drip” challenge, “Renegade” dance,  as well as the“Wipe it Down” Challenge. While these have all acted as unforgettable trends within the last few months, the most recent challenge to go viral on TikTok is the “Devious Licks” challenge.

With most schools starting back up in-person for the first time since the  2020 quarantine, the new opportunity of being in an in person setting has sparked a brand new viral challenge. “Devious Licks” has become one of the fastest spreading challenges on TikTok. In summary, this is where students take items that they call “devious licks” from school and show them off to the TikTok world, hoping to create a viral video. The most popular items stolen are usually soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, and bathroom stall doors. Kids on TikTok have gone so far as to steal a Smartboard, a desk, and other essential classroom supplies. Taking these items for TikTok “clout” may seem harmless, but in truth  is just stealing and vandalism which students can be charged for. I interviewed senior classmate Justin Jackson asking him his thoughts on this viral trend. “Do you know about the devious licks trend on TikTok?” “No, I do not; I have no idea what that is,” Justin replied. So I explained it to him, and he was familiar with it. After being told what the challenge was, Justin called it stupid and said it has affected him. Justin stated: “it sucks that we don’t have any soap in the bathroom; I just went to the bathroom and didn’t have anything to wash my hands with because students took all the dispensers. I’ve seen kids steal calculators from calc classes which cost hundreds of dollars” he added. Not only is no soap in bathrooms inconvenient to students and staff, but it’s also unhygienic and makes it extremely hard to follow Covid guidelines. 

I wanted to get more insight into how the “devious licks” challenge has affected Charlottesville High School so far this year, so I interviewed Principal Dr. I. “How has C.H.S been affected by the devious licks challenge”?. Dr. I responded with,  “speaking with other principals in our area and in the county, we have been affected but minimally affected. I think our students are fairly aware of what are good decisions and what are bad decisions. There is a sense of community here at Charlottesville High School. Especially with upperclassmen who have been here a while and understand what we are trying to do (in the sense of being a community).” He added, “I made the video that went out in BKT on September 30th because there was a lot of soap missing in our bathrooms which became a safety issue. It’s annoying for sure, but also a safety issue when it comes to following our new covid protocols when there’s no soap, and staff has to find something to replace it. I will say I do commend that we’ve had a lot of students that have addressed it with other students when they’ve seen it happening.” Doctor I. told me that other schools in the Jefferson District have been impacted in similar ways to C.H.S, and found out about the trend earlier this year from other principals. “Our discipline system exists and it’s there. Vandalism isn’t new to any high school in general. Our approach when talking to a student caught for vandalism is going to be speaking to the better being inside of everyone, and explain to them that they need to take care of their school, and take care of their community. There will be consequences for sure for students that engage in that behavior”. he claimed towards the end of our conversation. A statement was also made about replacing the missing soap dispensers saying that  the C.H.S staff avidly trying to replace them.  The problem with replacing the soap dispensers however is that C.H.S has to order them, but since these thefts have become a national issue, a lot of dispenser vendors are out of stock. A school reached out to Dr. I asked him if he was missing any dispensers and told him what was up with the licks challenge. “This challenge, along with some other viral trends on TikTok are criminal which could lead to expulsion” Dr. I finalized. 

He proposed an idea to try to unite C.H.S as a community. “What I wanted to do is work with our student body and create a challenge against other schools in our district like Western, Moniticello, and Albemarle to do something positive. Like maybe a food drive for Thanksgiving or something like that. Can we turn this trend into something positive using student voices. For the folks that are doing things (participating in licks challenge), it’s such a small percentage of students. It impacts everyone because everyone needs to wash their hands. I was hoping to work with you all (KTR), and our student government to think of ways to flip this challenge and create a more positive challenge . I think KTR is a great way to get the message out.” CHS hasn’t been hit hard by the “Devious Licks” challenge, but it has affected our school. Most students think they are participating in a harmless internet trend, but it’s doing more damage than intended.