A TikTok bathroom challenge that encourages students to trash school bathrooms forced a Terrace secondary school to remove the entrance doors to its restrooms.
As part of the challenge, termed “devious licks” which started on Sept. 1, students record themselves vandalizing and stealing items from school washrooms and post the videos on TikTok.
Keith Axelson, principal of Caledonia Secondary School said staff noticed a cluster of vandalism activities in multiple bathrooms in the building since fall.
School staff were made aware by students that these activities were part of a social media challenge.
The school’s solution to the problem was to remove the external doors of the bathrooms. Since then, there have been no reported vandalism activities in the bathrooms, said Axelson.
Janet Meyer, superintendent of Coast Mountain School District 82 that oversees Caledonia Secondary, said that in removing the door, the school ensured there was no breach of privacy.
“At no time would we sacrifice a person’s right to privacy and would not have taken the door out if it were affecting the students’ privacy,” said Meyer.
CMSD82 won’t take a district-wide blanket approach on this problem and will deal with individual cases and let the leadership of schools take the call if further issues arise, said Meyer.
Apart from Caledonia, no schools within the district have reported any such mischief.
The school has also reached out to the families of the students so that parents are aware.
Meyer also said that after perusing an unofficial list of these TikTok challenges (one issued for each month) she found the trends “disturbing,” as some of them tend to border on discrimination and harassment.
All of the listed challenges issued for the months ahead are disruptive in nature, such as vandalism, physical violence, stealing and sexual harassment among others.
For instance, October’s challenge was “smack a staff member” where students were encouraged to walk up to a teacher and slap them before running away.
None of the other “challenges” have been reported by the school so far.
The challenges and the list are not issued by TikTok and some of them are even contested as being “hoax” challenges, after no videos were found on TikTok.
When asked, TikTok said they expect their community to stay safe and create content responsibly.
“Content that promotes or enables dangerous challenges and illegal behaviour is not allowed on our platform and will be removed,” a TikTok spokesperson told the Terrace Standard.
TikTok, like most social media platforms now has moderation tools and features that allow removal of content or accounts that violate community guidelines.
The company said it also commissioned an independent agency, Praesidio Safeguarding, to better understand young people’s engagement with potentially harmful challenges and hoaxes. The findings of the reports can be accessed here.