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TikTok trend costing local school districts thousands of dollars in damages

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Posted at 4:35 PM, Sep 21, 2021

A new TikTok trend is resulting in thousands of dollars in damages at schools across the Central Coast.

"Devious Lick" is a TikTok challenge that’s gone viral, encouraging students to participate in acts of vandalism at their schools.

"These kids are looking for acceptance, they’re looking to be famous, they want those likes,” said Nicole Erbstoesser, who works closely with teens in a church ministry.

Images of items such as soap dispensers, hand sanitizers, fire alarms, and urinals being damaged or stolen are being captured and uploaded. It's a challenge that’s happening across the country and now here locally, as well.

Districts like Santa Maria Joint Union, Lucia Mar, and Guadalupe Union have all responded by sending letters to parents about the challenge.

Santa Maria Joint Union High School District officials responded by saying, "This week alone our high schools have had thousands of dollars worth of damage done by acts of vandalism to their facilities. Mostly to our student restrooms."

They say they’ve had to close down some facilities for repairs.

"This is not what you are going to do as an adult. Do you want this record to follow you for the rest of your life if you get caught and get in trouble? If you are bored, let’s find you something else to do," said parent Sarah Troglin.

Lucia Mar Unified School District officials also sent out a letter asking parents to talk with their children saying, in part, "Please talk with your student about the serious consequences of participating in this trend, or participating in any other activity that involves stealing or damaging school property."

School district officials added those who participate in these acts will suffer consequences and in some cases charges could be filed against students who’ve stolen property.

"We need to teach our kids respect, respect for our property, respect for our teachers, for our administrators,” Erbstoesser said.

TikTok has responded to this challenge by removing the popular hashtag.

In a statement, 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 behavior.”

Some parents believe the only way to prevent future problems is to make children learn from their actions.

"Make these kids clean up after their own mess, and that’s what I think should happen. You clean up after your own mess enough times you are going to quit making that mess,” Troglin said.