“Devious Licks” trend takes over the boys bathrooms


Nolan Henry

Destroying the soap dispensers in the boys bathroom was the first step in the devious licks trend. Photo posed by the Newsstreak staff.

Kasey Thompson, Yearbook Editor in Chief

The “Devious Licks” trend, inspired by a TikTok challenge to destroy school bathrooms, began in September. Assistant Principal Heath Johnston was involved in the aftermath of these trends taking place. Due to the pandemic being a remaining issue and a focus on hygiene, having limited bathrooms was a safety issue. 

“We couldn’t get [everything] replaced in [such a short] amount of time because we don’t carry a lot of that stuff [day to day]. There’s some supply chain stuff going on now which is making it difficult to replace them. We went through a period of time where some of the bathrooms couldn’t be open,” Johnston said. 

Students who participated in the trend targeted amenities like soap and towel dispensers. 

“From what I understand [the devious licks trend came from] TikTok and happened at a lot of schools. We talked with [other administrations] within the division and other school divisions, [and] obviously it was a trend in a lot of places. It basically [consisted of] pulling the towel dispensers off [the wall, as well as] some of the soap dispensers. Some of [the damage was] actually to the natural facilities, like the urinals [too],” Johnston said. 

The school bathrooms being shut down for a period of time caused an inconvenience for the entire school. 

“Especially during lunchtime, [students were not able] to access bathrooms. It was [also] an inconvenience to staff being able to access bathrooms. It was probably a very small percent of our population that even participated in this, but it caused problems for the entire school,” Johnston said. 

The custodians dealt with the aftermath of having to fix and clean up the results of this trend. 

“The custodians were very frustrated because they work very hard to keep our school clean [and] to maintain the facilities. Teachers were [also] frustrated because a lot of our teachers in the outside classrooms [have] no bathrooms outside, so they come in to use the restrooms and there [were] fewer bathrooms to use. It’s kind of the running of the building, there’s only certain bathrooms that [can be] used and they’re vandalized. It just makes it more frustrating for everybody in the school,” Johnston said. 

Johnston believes students got this idea from social media and then applied it to real life without thinking about the consequences or repercussions. 

“I think it was something [students] saw on social media [that] maybe happened [in] other places [and they] thought [it] would be funny. Sometimes it’s better to think twice and see if [something is] actually a good idea or if it’s something that you might laugh at [in a] video, but it’s not something you should [actually] do and replicate in other schools,” Johnston said. 

Johnston and the administration’s main goal was to stop the trend and emphasize safety. 

“[We were] trying to get it to stop because it actually is a criminal act. We did investigate and look into what we could. We were obviously trying to see who did it, but also trying to prevent it from continuing because it’s hard to operate a school without bathrooms that are functional. When we’re hosting games and public events where parents and people in the community are coming in to watch, it’s [an] issue,” Johnston said. 

Administration took several routes to address the vandalism. Assistant Principal Gloria Figueroa-Vargas created a video with the help of the broadcasting class to communicate with students. Lead Behavior Specialist for Harrisonburg City Schools Isaiah Dottin-Carter and Superintendent Michael Richards were also involved in communication with parents and the community. 

“The superintendent was concerned about what was happening and we felt we needed to communicate with parents, [the] community, and with students on the issue. Three people addressed it. Isaiah Dottin-Carter who works at the central office is a behavioral specialist. He talked about not doing [these] things [and that] there are things that are funny, but this [is] taking it too far. I represented the administrators of the division [and expressed that] we were very concerned about the damages and safety. I said if you do anything , there are consequences because we want to make sure that HHS and all the schools are a place for learning [where] everybody’s safe and able to learn. On the video, I took that approach and [emphasized that] we value respect and responsibility. Dr. Richards [also] talked more to the parents and community. Students from the broadcasting class [helped us] make the video. It was nice to work with students and [with] different people from the central office,” Figueroa-Vargas said. 

The video addressing the damage was put out on many platforms to reach those associated with Harrisonburg City Public Schools. Parents were thankful for administration’s response to the damage. 

“That video was posted everywhere. It was sent to parents [and posted on] Instagram [and] Facebook. [It] was posted so people knew where we stood, that we were making a call saying, let’s not do this because it added [a lot of] stress. Teachers, administrators [and] students didn’t get to have a bathroom. Parents were happy about [our response] and we felt support from the community saying thank you for making [schools] a safe place,” Figueroa-Vargas said. 

Johnston hopes that students learned from this experience and emphasize respect for our school in the future.  

“I hope [students] learned that you don’t damage your own home. This is a place you come to every day [and where you] spend most of your time. When you damage things and make it difficult for others to go on with their normal daily routine, it’s not good for anybody. It only takes a few people to do something that disrupts an entire system. I hope [students] look at [what happened] and [remember] this is our school, you wouldn’t let somebody come into your house and mess up your bathroom or your living room, it’s something to take care of. Some of the stuff [on] TikTok is funny, but when you start getting into things that are vandalizing, you need to think twice,” Johnston said.