TikTok has been an outlet for many teens during the pandemic. Various trends and challenges have gone through TikTok, each with their own unique twist, despite having recently reached new extremes. Over the past two weeks, a new challenge called ‘sneaky licks’ has surfaced on social media. “Sneaky Licks” are weird or fun ways to steal everyday school items. The trend started with the theft of toilet paper rolls or calculators by students, but has now grown to be as extreme as removing bathroom doors from their hinges. This trend has had a negative impact on the janitorial staff at Berkeley High School (BHS) and has shown the extremes to which students will go to be recognized on social media.
Students and teachers have been amazed at the scale of this challenge, which has caused thousands of dollars in damage due to replacing utilities and paying janitorial staff overtime. Brooke McKinney, a Grade 9 Universal English teacher (U9), said: “We don’t want to spend money on damages. We want to spend money, in my opinion, on computers, or books, or something that will really benefit the students. “
BHS janitorial staff had to work around the clock to clean up after this trend. The security guard of Building C on the second floor said: “[The trend] it’s horrible, it makes no sense. It damages property here on campus and stresses the guards because we have to remove graffiti, broken soap dispensers, toiletries, clog the toilets, and it forces us to work really hard.
What started out as a form of entertainment has now affected the lives of BHS students and staff, who have had to work overtime over the past month to make sure BHS can function properly.
Many students recognize the damage of this trend, but have also noticed the administration’s rapid response, in contrast to their often slow and unsatisfactory responses to other issues, such as sexual violence. Many students expressed hope that the administration cares as much about the health and safety of students as it is about the condition of their property.
While there are many perspectives on this trend, arguably the most compelling is that of supervisory staff. The C-building warden said, “I just wish the administrators… were more concerned with how to communicate with the students to let them know how damaging it really is.” We all need to remember that while engaging in fun trends or challenges can be a meaningful way to connect, they can also have unintended consequences for important members of the community.