HARTFORD, Conn. — Editor's Note: The video above was previously published and is unrelated to this story.
Kids across the country are posting TikTok videos of themselves vandalizing school bathrooms, stealing soap dispensers, and even swiping turf from football fields.
The “devious licks” challenge has swept social media and has hit some schools in Connecticut. Last week, the principal at Timothy Edwards Middle School in South Windsor sent an email to parents warning them about the challenge and asking for their support.
“Please speak with your child about their use of social media and the negative impact these temporary fads could have on our community,” Principal Melissa Morgan-Hostetler said in the email. “Please also know that administration must take matters of property damage, vandalism and/or theft very seriously and will address them accordingly.”
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and other officials called on TikTok to take action to combat the viral vandalism videos.
“We have seen first-hand, in Connecticut and around the country, the absolutely destructive effects of these viral video challenges,” he said during a news conference in Hartford. “Theft and vandalism are glorified.”
Blumenthal demanded the social media company be held accountable for hosting more than 94,000 such videos that glorify the destruction and vandalism of school property.
“That is why I am calling on TikTok to ban these videos, to detect them and prevent them, and ban, as well the users, – those kids who make use of its platform to encourage and incite others,” the senator said. “TikTok is complicit in these types of actions.”
While social media did spawn the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for research into the condition known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, it also led to a rash of poisonings several years ago when teenagers swallowed pods of laundry detergent for the “Tide Pod challenge.” The latest trend follows close upon a viral challenge to walk on stacks of milk crates.
A spokesperson said TikTok was removing “devious licks” content and redirecting hashtags and search results to its guidelines to discourage the behavior and that it doesn’t allow content that “promotes or enables criminal activities.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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