The new school year has just begun, and kids have returned to the building. Unfortunately, many school districts are sending home emails warning parents about yet another risky new TikTok social media challenge: the “Devious Lick” Bathroom Vandalism Challenge.
What is the “Devious Lick” challenge on TikTok?
Students record themselves vandalizing school bathrooms on TikTok, then encourage their friends to do the same and post their recordings of destruction. Missing or broken soap dispensers, damaged plumbing and fixtures, and large paint and toilet paper messes are all been discovered in schools.
Given the significance of handwashing and keeping bathrooms clean to prevent the spread of COVID, this is an extremely difficult moment. It also gives pupils plenty of opportunities to use the restroom more frequently. This “challenge” appears to take place at middle and high schools, but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that your younger child, who doesn’t have unsupervised internet access, will learn about dangerous social media challenges at school from older siblings.
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What should we do about it?
When talking to our children about difficult topics, the most important advice we can give them is to talk less and listen more. While it’s pleasant to have some wise words to pass on to our children, the greatest thing we can do when we’re concerned about something they’re seeing, reading, or hearing is to listen to them. We won’t know what to say until we know more about their perception of and response to something in the first place.
Adults have a tendency to use a lot of words. So, if you need to initiate a conversation like this, do so in a neutral and concise manner. “Have you heard of this TikTok thing called ‘Devious Licks’ or the Bathroom Vandalism Challenge?” for example. Then, “What do you think of it?” as a follow-up question. Bite your tongue, too. You might be rewarded with the opportunity to hear their opinion, point of view, or even what worries or concerns them about a challenge like the Vandalism Challenge.
You can ask a lot of clarifying questions, such as, “Why do they think youngsters are engaging when they know it’s wrong?” You can make educated estimates if they simply shrug their shoulders or say the all-too-common “I don’t know.” Is it peer pressure, a desire to stand out and be “cool,” or a desire to obtain social media followers and clout?
We will be in a better position to try to answer any questions our children may have once we have heard them out. Yes, we may provide a critical adult viewpoint and counsel after listening to them first, but also make the clear expectation that this type of behavior is not acceptable by stating our concerns, including the fact that it is unlawful and could result in serious consequences.
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However, it is still more important to ask questions, think about what we hear from them, and express an interest in learning more from them, especially because they are likely aware that such behavior is unacceptable. This advice applies to any distressing or perplexing content or unwelcome actions encountered on the Internet or elsewhere. Because, in the end, if we want our children to listen to us, we must first demonstrate that we listen to them!
Even if you’re very sure this hasn’t happened at your child’s school yet, it’s still a good idea to have this chat ahead of time. And be sure to follow them on social media if you want to stay up to date on what’s going on in their world. There’s nothing like seeing things for yourself to put us in a better position to ask questions and learn more directly from our children.
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If you already know your child was involved in anything like this, your initial reaction is probably to take away their phone or social media access or to punish them in some other way. While natural, such reactions rarely address the underlying issues that lead to problematic conduct. If you want to tackle the situation in a long-term fashion, try listening first, as difficult as it may be when we are angry at or disappointed in our children.