Devious is the new dumb

By: 
Wade Young, wade@montgomerymnnews.com

Schools in the Tri-City United School District are celebrating Homecoming this week. In the schools, fun events and dress-up days are planned to make the annual tradition a fun one.

At the high school there’s Hidden Volleyball and Sports Lip Sync, among other things for the kids to do safely. I like the events the kids will be able to participate in during the week.

However we know kids have minds of their own and come up with their own ways to have fun during this week, some of which may not be smart.

We’ve seen online challenges in the past like the Cinnamon Challenge, Tide Pod Challenge, or Bottle-Flipping Challenge. Some are harmless, and others are dangerous (and stupid, if you ask me.)

The newest challenge appears on the app Tiktok. It’s called "Devious Licks" and suggests kids make these dumb decisions. This trend challenges students to damage, steal, and vandalize their own schools and post it on their social media accounts. Whether it's stolen urinals, smashed floor tiles or missing soap dispensers, the destruction is apparent in school bathrooms across the United States. It's the latest trend to go viral.

According to an email sent by High School Principal Alan Fitterer, who in more than 15 years of Homecomings, has witnessed kids doing dumb things during Homecoming, this newest trend has Titans taking the challenge.

“All 3 of our TCU schools (TCU HS, LC K-8, & Montgomery K-8) have experienced incidents,” he wrote about the challenge.

Montgomery Police Chief Nathan Hintz told the council at Monday’s meeting the challenge starts with small things like stealing boxes of Kleenex or dry erasers. It levels-up to stealing soap dispensers from bathrooms, which Hintz says is a Level 2, and what he has investigated at TCU. He said the challenge expands to Level 5, which is theft of computers, and a felony-level crime.

Hintz said he is working with the high school staff to “put it to bed” before it gets too bad.

In his email, Fitterer asked parents/guardians to communicate with their teen Titans about the consequences of vandalizing TCU school property. He reminded parents that TCU is working with law enforcement as necessary to apprehend those who are doing damage within the schools.

I get it. Teens will be teens. They are especially susceptible to peer pressure and FOMO (fear of missing out). To them, what was once a double-dog dare is now a popular YouTuber eating a hot pepper just to see what happens.

We were all young once. The peer pressure to fit in is as old as time itself. We still see people wearing/doing/saying something, and sometimes we want to try it, too. (Marketing at its finest.) Back in the day it was smoking and drinking. Today, it means viral social media stunts.

What can we do? According to commonsensemedia.org and Fitterer, we need to talk to our tweens and teens about it. Get them to think about the possible ramifications of doing something so stupid, and acknowledge peer pressure.

They also say parents should stay (somewhat) up-to-date and talk to their kids about viral challenges and what other kids are doing. Sometimes that can start the conversation when the kids are talking about someone else.

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