TAMPA (WFLA) – TikTok may be known for funny moments and choreographed dancing, but the Hillsborough County School District is joining schools nationwide in sounding the alarm about challenges on the app that are inciting potentially criminal behavior.
“Education in Hillsborough county is going to be disruption-free,” Superintendent Addison Davis told 8 On Your Side.
In PSAs, both Superintendent Addison Davis and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister say bad behavior because of a TikTok challenge will not be tolerated.
“It may seem like a silly TikTok challenge, but trust me it will have very real consequences,” Sheriff Chronister said in his PSA.
The TikTok “devious licks” challenge has inspired students to tear out toilets and damage soap dispensers, as seen in photos from Seminole County Public Schools.
Superintendent Davis said Hillsborough students have vandalized bathrooms by ripping down sinks.
“These challenges are causing harm to our facilities, causing potential harm to our employees and to be clear we’re not just gonna accept it,” he said.
This month a “devious licks” TikTok challenge is to “slap a teacher.” Whether it is vandalism, theft or assault, Davis told 8 On Your Side students could face consequences beyond what is in the Student Code of Conduct.
“The law, if it’s going to be broken we’re going to address it in a collective manner,” Davis said.
Meagan Haynes from Seffner has a daughter at a Hillsborough middle school.
“They’re posting their stuff like fights for instance and it’s getting them likes, it’s horrible,” she said.
Haynes said it is the right call for the school district to discipline students who photograph, record and share unacceptable behavior in school on social media.
“I don’t feel the kids need to have their phones at school anymore, I mean period,” Haynes said. “Look, you know 10 years ago we were reprimanded if we had phones at school.”
A letter from Superintendent Davis to parents said the punishment for students as it relates to social media disruption, disruption of campus, aggravated battery and vandalism could be “change of environment, schedule change, up to 10 days of out-of-school suspension and possibly expulsion.”