Last week’s Tik Tok-inspired vandalism at the Harwood Union Middle School has been contained according to acting superintendent and Waitsfield Elementary School principal Kaiya Korb who noted that the issue was short-lived with relatively minor damage.
Last week, school leadership reported to community members on Friday that students following a “Devious Lick TikTok phenomena engaged in stealing, damaging or destroying school property and chronicling that behavior on social media.
On September 21, high school seniors addressed the Tik Tok phenomena at a school-wide assembly, calling on their peers to consider school values and the reputation of the school. On September 23, as The Valley Reporter went to press, the school community was engaging in a dialogue to consider the impact of the harm done.
School leadership members, in an email to the Harwood community, also noted the presence of Vermont State Police at the school this week.
“There are occasionally incidents of certain types, such as theft, vandalism and/or drugs and alcohol, which in addition to the HUUSD investigation and response process, may be subject to state police investigation. Please know that no students are ever asked to speak with a police officer without prior notification and participation of a student’s family,” the administrators noted.
In a September 20 release to the community, Korb said that the actions of a few were received by the majority of Harwood students with sadness and frustration. The “devious licks” social media trend was being reported across the country. Tic Tok, last week, removed all posts with the “devious lick label and hashtag.
“Our larger focus, and the one we hope you also will help us share, is continued dialogue around social media and the potential impacts of what we engage in or that to which we give attention,” Korb wrote in the press release.
Korb noted that the event allows parents, educators and school staff to reflect on how people interact with social media.
“While these events were perpetrated by just a few, many more have shared these videos. This experience gives a real-life and personal opportunity to explore the impact of social media in our lives. While this is a topic discussed throughout our schools and classrooms, the conversations can sometimes feel hypothetical or removed from our everyday lives. HUMHS is using this unfortunate situation as a springboard for conversations, throughout Teacher Advisory groups and assembly, around creating and maintaining an environment where all feel safe, as well as for reflecting upon what we participate in through social media and how that shapes the world around us,” she reported.
Torrey Smith, chair of the Harwood Unified Union School District Board echoed that concern about thoughtful consumption of social media.
“I do think that what happened is not at all representative of typical student behavior in our district. The fact that some few students engaged in this behavior points to the challenge for both schools and families of helping our children learn to be critical consumers of the media that gets their attention -- determining fact from fiction in terms of information, understanding the omnipresence of advertising in social media and advisable from inadvisable in terms of these so-called challenges that move virally across the social platforms,” she said.