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How TikTok is Turning Kids Into Criminals

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Liz Fe creates informative content to entertain and educate her readers.

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Devious Licks

Never in a million years did people think that teenagers would be committing crimes all because of a trend they saw online. There have been plenty of media and real-life examples of teens causing little misdeeds here and there. In the 80s and 90s, teens and young adults would often vandalize or steal property like street signs and traffic cones for some drunk stunt that they were attempting to pull off.

But in the modern-day and age, where viral trends can be subjective in terms of how "good" or "bad" they are for how young people are influenced to think, by far the worst thing that has happened for teenagers is their participation in crime that is influenced by TikTok trends, like "devious licks," or the "bathroom challenge," involve students going into school or public bathrooms and stealing property—all for the sake of a few likes, views or comments.

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How the Trend Works

The "devious lick" or "bathroom challenge" is not the first trend to have harmful consequences to its participants. The "cinnamon challenge," which spawned headlines about its dangers back in 2015, often involved people shoveling spoonfuls of cinnamon into their throats, which would result in suffocation and even death in some cases.

Although the devious lick trend does not result in people dying in the process, it did result in many schools having to take drastic measures to keep their rowdy students out of causing problems for others. Licks most often involve students stealing property from bathrooms: doors, dryers, sinks, hand sanitizers, soap dispensers, and even fire alarms got stolen as part of this trend.

Many high schools were forced to shut down their school bathrooms, as this is where the majority of the thefts were taking place. Devious licks began in September of 2021, but the trend persisted beyond the original posts in TikTok - and ever since then, many high school kids have managed to get away with the thefts.

Some of them even managed to be a little more creative with their heists, going as far as stealing trophies out of trophy cases and various other properties around schools. Other kids responded with their own parodies of the trend to reflect how stupid the trend was—by posting that they pretended to steal from the school but using sarcastic undertones implying that the trend was not a good idea.

Even now, young kids are continuing to post their "licks" on TikTok - and that's not even the first trend on TikTok that has been coming under fire.

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Just a couple of days ago, three Utah students were arrested and charged with felonies for yet another TikTok trend beyond the devious licks—a new trend where kids jokingly talked about bringing guns or other weapons to school.

Although it is unclear what kinds of charges will be brought against these students, this is another example of how effective these trends are. On the heels of the last school shooting to hit the news, this created an uproar in the whole community.

These Utah kids are likely now affected for the rest of their lives because of a TikTok trend they bought into. As much as it is a cliche repeated over and over by older folks, young children and adults are very impressionable and can easily buy into anything that is said or done online - hence the importance of classes in K-12 schools like sex education and safety training.

There is a lack of education in young children if they continue to believe that trends are what drives their sense of right and wrong; it should go without saying that there needs to be some level of internet safety and classes related to it that's taught to young kids to prevent them from buying into these types of "trends."

Based on other kids' reactions to them, it appears that some of them already understand that this type of action is wrong; all that remains is to teach more of them that actions like these are wrong. That's what these trends have demonstrated—let's see if other students and teachers can also pick up on this message.

Thankfully, aside from a few closed bathrooms and a few damaged places on high school campuses, these trends don't appear to have any more destructive consequences that might pan out badly for others.

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The Problem Continues

But the fact that many kids continue to participate in them already raises a few red flags. There is much that needs to be done and questioned regarding how to get kids to not engage in "dumb Internet trends" - case in point, the people that participated in the cinnamon challenge a few years back, or the slew of other food-related challenges that followed.

The virality of trends and how good they can be is somewhat subjective at the end of the day, but it remains important to keep a vigilant watch for any "devious" teens that might want to keep participating in these strange—and sometimes disastrous— Internet trends. Be sure to keep watch for any headlines that pop up in the future about a couple of kids stealing toilets. Keep in mind that your tax dollars are paying for these hijinks.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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