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Marion County Public Schools reaches out to parents over TikTok challenge

FILE - This Feb. 25, 2020, file photo, shows the icon for TikTok in New York. A Dutch consumer organization is launching a 1.5 billion euro ($1.8 billion) claim against TikTok over what it alleges is unlawful harvesting of personal data of users of the popular video sharing platform. The Consumentenbond and a foundation called Take Back Your Privacy demanded Thursday, June 24, 2021 that TikTok pay damages to 1.2-1.6 million Dutch children who use the app. (AP Photo/File)

The Marion County School district is hoping a message to middle and high school parents will help stop a TikTok challenge causing damage to school bathrooms and legal trouble for the teens involved.

The viral TikTok challenge is called Devious Licks.

Students record themselves taking or destroying school property, perhaps ripping out a soap dispenser, damaging a urinal or defacing the walls.

It's a national trend that has gotten pretty bad in Marion County, especially at Lake Weir, Dunnellon and Forest high schools. 

School District spokesman Kevin Christian said he'ssending out an alert featuring the safe schools director and Ocala police chief "to really share with parents what this challenge is all about, what happens, what these students do, and what the outcomes can be, everything from suspension to expulsion to being jailed."

He added: "Parents sometimes have to be reminded about what their children are being exposed to online, and social media ... students just eat it up right now and this is something that, as I said, students don't even realize how serious it is."

The Sheriff's Office has arrested at least eight students for this. One faces a felony, but most entered a diversionary program and will be mucking stalls and feeding pigs at the sheriff's inmate farm for the next five Saturdays.

Ocala police reported incidents at several schools due to the TikTok challenge:
- There were about six at Howard Middle, including one on Thursday. Three students were issued juvenile citations.
- West Port High had a few incidents, including broken exit signs.
- At Fort King Middle, a girls' bathroom was damaged and a Chrome Book stolen as part of the TikTok challenge. These were handled through school discipline.
- At Osceola Middle, every soap dispenser was ripped from walls and books were stolen from a book fair.
- Vanguard High had three incidents involving soap dispensers.


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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