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Damaging TikTok trend hits Wisconsin schools

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PLATTEVILLE (WKOW) -- The "devious licks" challenge became popular on TikTok and encourages students to vandalize or steal items from their schools. The damage can range from ripping soap dispensers or toilet paper holders off the wall to damaging stall doors or stealing classroom supplies.

After hearing reports of schools in other states receiving damage, Wisconsin schools are seeing the trend now, too.

"We had a soap dispenser that doesn't lock properly, and the bag was taken out," Platteville Middle School principal Jason Julius said. "They didn't take it with them, but it was recorded them taking that, and so then it's like, 'okay, the kids are aware of this now.'"

Platteville High School has also seen damage as part of the trend, principal Jacob Crase said.

"[They took] is the batteries from the paper towel dispenser," Crase said. "Unfortunately, in the process of getting them out, the paper towel dispenser was broken."

Crase said students who steal or damage school property and get caught will have to deal with some immediate consequences.

"Any type of theft or vandalism, that's an activity code violation," he said.

Students with a violation who are in extracurricular activities won't be able to participate for up to 25% of a season or 21 days for a non-athletic activity.

"It's not just affecting you," Crase said. "It's affecting your teammates, it's affecting the coaches, other people in your club or group, whatever it was. You're going to lose part of that season."

And there are other potential consequences, too.

"There are legal consequences," Josh Stowe, the Community Resource Officer for the Platteville School District, said. "You know, citations for theft, referrals to social services for damaging property, things like that."

Crase said he's worried kids will take part in the trend without realizing the real-world ramifications their actions could have.

"This is something that is potentially going to lead down a path that doesn't take you where you want to be," he said. "One of the things students don't always realize is that who they are on social media, it does impact the rest of their life, and there can be consequences even much further down the road for things that were said and not really thought about or done and not really thought about."

Other cities dealing with trend, too

Platteville isn't the only Wisconsin town the trend has hit. Janesville schools and Baraboo police said they've received multiple reports of damage, as well.

"This isn't the next town's problem," Baraboo Police Chief Mark Schauf said. "It's our town's problem, and our kids are doing it."

He said the legal repercussions could end up costing kids and their parents a lot of money.

"It is actual criminal damage," he said. "It's not a prank. It's criminal damage by Wisconsin statutes. In Baraboo, that ticket would be $213.10, and you'd have to either appear in court or pay that fine.... but, more importantly, then there's also the restitution."

Schauf said his department has seen damage from the trend spread beyond schools in the community. He said there's been damage to some public park bathrooms, and some businesses have had items stolen, too.

Asking for parents' help

Julius said in order for schools to get on top of this trend quickly, parents will have to step in and talk to their kids about why they shouldn't participate.

"They're at an impressionable age, and sometimes they don't necessarily think about their actions," he said. "That's why as adults, whether it's teachers, CROs, principals, or parents, that saying 'it takes community to raise a child' is so true. We need to make sure we're all aware."

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