A recent TikTok trend encouraging students to "hit a devious lick" — slang for stealing — has caused disruption in schools nationwide. In Columbia, this means a custodial staff stretched thin and a school district looking for ways to minimize damage. 

Columbia Public School AVID, a college readiness program, said on Twitter Thursday evening that there has been vandalism of school bathrooms across the district.

"We are short on custodial staff and this wasteful and selfish act creates more work for folks who are doing their best to ensure scholars can learn in person," the post read.

This wave of stealing and vandalization of school bathrooms is part of a larger trend across the nation. The trend encourages high schoolers and college-age students to "hit a lick" and post the results online. The trend has gotten out of hand in many school districts, leading to vandalism of school property.

District spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said in an email the district is "aware of the trend and (has) had a few isolated incidents addressed on a school-by-school basis."

Baumstark added that while the custodial shortage is not because of the recent trend, the trend has impacted the district's resources negatively.

Schools across the district have been forced to close or monitor restrooms in the wake of the trend.

Sandi Epple, the parent of a senior attending Rock Bridge High School, said the school had only two boys bathrooms open Friday morning.

The trend has affected smaller and larger districts alike. Hallsville School District was forced to close nine bathrooms and locker rooms across its middle and high schools over the last week, according to a Facebook post from parent Tiffany Pohl Crowe. 

Columbia Public Schools is hoping the trend will pass and that parents can stop the problems at the source.

"Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about the consequences of such behavior (vandalism and stealing) and the importance of keeping our schools in good condition for the benefit of our community, fellow students, and our teachers and staff members," Baumstark said in an email.

  • Columbia Youth beat reporter. Junior studying writing and reporting. I can be reached at Mattmcfarland@mail.missouri.edu or reach the newsroom at 882-5720.

  • Elizabeth Brixey is the Columbia Missourian's education editor and an associate professor in the Missouri School of Journalism. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and brixeye@missouri.edu.

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