Kettering Schools reports students participating in ‘devious licks’ social media trend


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Trend includes people recording themselves stealing items from school

The Kettering school district is dealing with a “widespread” issue of students participating in a social media trend called “devious licks” in which students record themselves stealing things such as soap and hand sanitizer dispensers.

“Please talk to your children and underscore the fact that we take this type of behavior very seriously and it will not be tolerated in our schools,” said the district’s letter to parents late Thursday. “While some students may think this type of behavior is funny, make no mistake that pulling soap dispensers off walls and removing them from school bathrooms is vandalism and theft.”

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Kettering City Schools spokeswoman Kari Basson said Friday that the thefts have happened at Fairmont High School and both of the district’s middle schools. Basson said there have already been student suspensions tied to this issue, and the district’s letter to parents said students could face criminal charges.

“Our maintenance and custodial staff are being kept busy replacing things — mostly soap dispensers and hand sanitizers,” she said. “There have been a couple situations where things have been taken out of classrooms.”

The district has significant security camera coverage, but obviously not in school bathrooms where much of the damage is happening. Basson said school staff are keeping a closer eye on bathrooms during high-traffic times like lunch and class-change.

Kettering’s letter said the school district will have “zero tolerance” on the issue, calling it vandalism and theft. Basson reiterated that, and said there’s another issue.

“We are telling our students and staff to wash their hands all the time, but they go into the bathroom and they can’t wash their hands,” Basson said of ongoing COVID safety steps. “I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but it becomes a health issue.”

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It’s not clear if any other school districts in the area sent similar warnings to parents and students. NBC News reported that TikTok, a social media app, confirmed Wednesday that it is banning content that’s part of the devious licks trend and that the videos violate the platform’s community guidelines.

“We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an email to NBC News. “We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.”