What’s more cringe than students committing avoidable crimes? When they end up filming it and uploading it to the apps they use! To be fair, maybe that means they didn’t realize it was a crime, but they’re still accountable to the law. Consider this well known example from August, September, and October 2021:
At the time, school districts all across the nation – including most school districts throughout Nevada – dealt with something called the #DeviousLicks challenge that was popular on TikTok at the time.
The challenge involved students posting footage with the #DeviousLicks hashtag that showed property they stole had stolen school from schools to social media for views and likes. The idea wasn’t to steal fun stuff, just boring and outrageous things they didn’t need.
Generally, the students would leave the things they stole lying around to be found. Some items were small and seemingly inconsequential, toilet paper rolls from the bathroom stalls and soap from the dispensers by the sinks. Other items were of no value to the students (at least the toilet paper could be used if they’d chosen to use it): this included wall-mounted pencil sharpeners being taken from classrooms, and water fountains being removed from their installed locations inside the school hallways: the items were left to be found by school staff, so it wasn’t really theft…right?
WRONG! What was meant to be a popularity development prank on an app was in fact the crime of vandalism. Students could also face charges of theft, even if they didn’t keep the items they stole.
In Nevada, school leaders took action “There are a lot of different types of activities that you can do with social media, such as talking about volunteering, such as about helping one another. But hurting your school community is not one of those things”, said the superintendent McNeill of WCSD. Principal Jennifer Ritter from Cram Middle School located in North Las Vegas wrote “please understand that any student caught engaging in these behaviors will be disciplined at school and school police will be contacted. We will not tolerate the purposeful destruction of property, graffiti or theft”. Summer Stephans, the superintendent of Churchill County School District stressed that “any student caught making a violent threat on social media causing a school disturbance will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible”.
Given the overwhelming amount of evidence (in the form of the videos uploaded and posted to TikTok by the students that were stealing things), it seems pretty clear that there was one huge misunderstanding going on: A lot of these kids didn’t realize what they were doing was committing crimes!
Criminal consequences aren’t just a theory, young people from across the nation actually face serious consequences. Consider the following examples, from the Marion County School District in Florida where nine students were arrested on misdemeanor vandalism charges for participating in the “devious lick” trend by ripping paper towel dispensers off the wall and destroying a urinal.
In Kentucky where eight students were charged after being caught doing these pranks, four of them faced vandalism charges, and the other four faced theft charges.
Four people in Pennsylvania were also arrested for their #DeviousLicks when they caused $10,000 worth of damages to school buses. Three juveniles and a 19-year-old were charged with institutional vandalism, criminal trespass, theft from a motor vehicle, criminal mischief, and loitering.
These are only a few examples of how what seems like harmless pranks can end up in criminal charges. This whole #DeviousLicks thing started as a TikTok trend, yet ended up being a crime. If you take nothing else from this article, at least walk away remembering that just because it’s being posted online and done by a lot of people, that doesn’t mean you won’t end up getting in trouble with the law if you do it yourself!
While #DeviousLicks is not longer the *Shiney New Thing* there’s always another prank to be thought up that may seem like nothing more than stupid fun…. until a student gets caught and charged by law enforcement, at which time it becomes clear they’ve made a huge mistake.
This is why students really need to take the advice of “Pause before you prank” to heart, and evaluate whether the choices they are about to make in some circumstances are actually breaking laws, and not just the kind of thing that can get them grounded.
Not only can the wrong choices lead to troubles with the law, they can result in students being removed from their schools and burdened with criminal records that do not just dissapear when they turn 18.
Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the articles this piece was sourced from here:
Contributed by: Emma Winkelman
Edited By: Mike Kamer