State schools

This TikTok challenge is costing schools in the Upstate thousands

Upstate schools are closing restrooms and tightening campus security in response to the latest “challenge” that surfaced on TikTok.

A viral wave of videos has warned of possible violence in schools across the country. The rumored threat prompted police to increase their presence on school campuses on Friday.

School officials say they have already faced the costly fallout from apparent challenges that are spurring students to action.

ICYMI:Schools to see increased police presence after social media threats

The disturbing “sneaky licks” challenge began in September and involves students stealing random items from school, assaulting teachers and vandalizing school property. The students take videos of themselves participating in the challenge and post them to TikTok under a hashtag and a variation of the sneaky spelling.

At Enterprise High School, principal Ryan Johnson said he closed the restrooms on Monday, after TikTok students vandalized the facilities. The teams repair the damage.

The vandalism subsided and resurfaced a few weeks ago, Johnson said. Students clogged toilets with trash, scribbled on walls, ripped out soap dispensers and spread feces on floors and walls, he said.

The school has set up portable restrooms until the end of the semester while the school repairs the damage, but Johnson still worries the restorations will be undone with the spring semester, he said. At one point, Johnson hired extra security guards to stand outside the bathrooms, but that only helped temporarily, he said.

To verify: Amid alleged threats from TikTok, here’s what we know about the app’s response

“It’s difficult because it’s hard to catch the kids and stop them,” he said.

Students who are caught are suspended or assigned to a student restorative justice panel, where they must take responsibility for their actions to be excused, he said. Sometimes the parents also offer to pay the damages. Bathroom repairs cost the school between $2,000 and $2,500, he added.

Other schools in the Shasta Union School District have had similar issues, Superintendent Jim Cloney said. The district spent at least $5,000 on bathroom repairs, he said.

The trend at one point dared students to slap or assault a teacher, something Shasta Union schools haven’t seen happen, Cloney said.

However, earlier forms of the challenge included recording the theft of school items. At West Valley High School, this is where the trend started and ended.

In September, assistant manager Justin Byxbe said he noticed items missing. This included a fire extinguisher, a paper towel holder, and pieces of lab equipment.

Accompanied by a security guard, Byxbe visited each classroom and warned students that he would look away if officials returned the missing items within 24 hours. But if they remained missing, officials would cite the students for vandalism and theft.

“I talked to them about the expectations,” he said. “I told the students it was their school, so how they treat it is how it’s going to be. I wanted to give students ownership.”

West Valley principal Joshua Mason also sent an email to parents stating that if students participated in the trend they would be cited for vandalism, theft and disciplined under the education code, he said. declared.

Anderson Union High School District Superintendent Victor Hopper, who oversees six high schools, could not be reached in time for publication.

Cloney stressed the importance of parents and guardians discussing the consequences students will face if they follow harmful social media trends.

Nada Atieh is a Report for America body member and education reporter focusing on childhood trauma and the achievement gap for the Redding Record Searchlight. Follow her on Twitter at @nadatieh_RS. Help local journalism thrive by subscribe today! And if you can, please consider a tax deductible donation for his work.