Voices of Webster: ‘Devious Lick’: Social media encourages school vandalism

Izzy Poole
Business Manager

Lydia Urice
Junior Editor

paper towel devious lick
A student appears to be stealing a paper towel dispenser from a high school bathroom. Incidents like this have occurred nationwide in response to a social media trend.

“I would make it akin to a storm approaching, you don’t know how severe it’s going to be or how much impact it’s going to have,” principal Dr. Matt Irvin said.

According to Wikipedia, the term “devious lick” refers to students stealing, or vandalizing things from their schools and posting on TikTok about it. A lick is defined as “a successful theft” from Urban Dictionary. The act of stealing or vandalizing school property is also called “diabolical licks” or “dastardly licks.”

It all started from TikTok user @jugg4elias posting a video on Sept. 1, of stealing a box of disposable masks from their school. More students started to post TikToks stealing similar things like soap dispensers and others like sinks, mirrors and Smartboards.

“I would just say a variety of items that are coming from hallways and restrooms,” Irvin said. “Some related to hygiene, some related to safety, some of them are inconveniences.”

The punishment for theft or vandalism is 10 days of Out of School Suspension. Also every incident is reported to the Webster Groves Police Department, which decides if further investigation and/or punishment is necessary.

“Not being able to wash your hands is a greater inconvenience now in the middle of a pandemic,” Irvin said.

“Five or less. So not a ton, but disconcerting because of what they physically do and the ripple effect of that,” Irvin said about the extent of the vandalism. “Let’s say someone removes something from the building, whatever that may be, right? Whether they leave with it and go off-campus with it, or if it’s a safety device of some type or if it’s a paper towel dispenser or something.”

“Sometimes those things are devices that have to be remounted or reinstalled by professionals,” Irvin said. “We’re pretty short-handed on custodians and short-handed on some other staff, so they are taxed with tasks that are requiring them to be involved with recovery, replacement, whatever, and it’s problematic.”

Students walked in on a student who appeared to be stealing a paper towel dispenser off the wall after school.
“I told Irvin because that’s what I should do. It was in the morning. I was like, ‘Hey can I talk to you?’ and we just walked to the other side of the front steps,” one senior said.

The opposite of devil is angel, and in light of that, TikTok users have also posted videos of “angelic yields.” An angelic yield is when a student donates something to the school, like soap dispensers or toilet paper rolls to their school in hopes of promoting a more positive community.

This week’s ECHO Podcast is introduced, outro’d by and edited by podcast editor Maren DeMargel.

Business manager Izzy Poole reads a story she and junior editor Lydia Urice wrote about the Devious Licks trend.

Intro music from https://filmmusic.io
Beauty Flow” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

See Also: Voices of Webster: Principal discusses Devious Licks trend


Izzy Poole – Business Manager

This will be Izzy Poole’s first year on ECHO staff, but they made several contributions while taking journalism class their sophomore year.

Lydia Urice – Junior Editor

This will be Lydia Urice’s second year on ECHO staff.  Last year, she was podcast editor, and this year she is junior editor.

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