Is the ‘devious licks’ trend a symptom of a larger issue?


TikTok’s controversial ‘devious licks’ trend has resulted in almost universal, and justified, condemnation. This trend, in short, consists of students recording themselves stealing items such as soap dispensers, clocks, and toilets, and then posting the footage to TikTok or other social media platforms.

As school property is being destroyed and stolen, this trend could be devastating to many already underfunded schools across the country. Many try to discount this as a one-off incident of immature teenagers doing potentially harmful things for TikTok views and for their own entertainment, but could this trend be a symptom of a larger structural issue?

While this trend is immature and juvenile, it may not be productive to simply condemn these actions without trying to analyze the larger issue behind it. If the underlying problem is not addressed, similar destructive trends could arise, worsening the high stress teachers are facing in the midst of the pandemic.

It is unclear what exactly the problem is, but it is worth researching. For instance, if these students truly saw the value in their education and appreciated going to school, trends like this would not arise. It may be worth trying to figure out why exactly these students hold so much vitriol against their schools and the education system. It begs the question- why do these students care more about TikTok views than their education?

The COVID-19 pandemic may have contributed to this; students may feel isolated and may develop a pessimistic outlook on their education. While their actions are unacceptable, ignoring the potential root problems will only lead to more harmful actions in the future. These students need to be held accountable for their destructive actions; however, it is clear that these students may need some kind of help, so they do not attempt to do anything similar in the future and so that they live productive lives.