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School officials brace for new TikTok challenge to slap a staff member

Updated September 30, 2021 - 5:16 pm

The “devious licks” TikTok challenge for students caused major property damage to schools across the Las Vegas Valley and around the country. The next TikTok challenge might be worse.

The October challenge is to slap a teacher or a staff member “on the backside,” and schools across the country are concerned as the month starts on Friday.

Jessica LeNeave, principal of the Pinecrest Academy Cadence public charter school in Henderson, released a video on Facebook warning students not to participate in the challenge.

It’s really important to get the word out now, she said, emphasizing the need for parents to have conversations with their children so they understand the stunt could have serious ramifications.

“Schools all around us and a lot of my counterparts are struggling with the same thing,” she said. “Once the weekend hit, administrators were passing around a photo that the TikTok challenge is now a monthly challenge. And so when I got that photo that it has now become a monthly challenge, I really felt that we had to be proactive with our families and our students.”

Last month’s “devious licks” challenge urged students to steal or vandalize school property and post videos of their exploits online, and Clark County School District Police Department Lt. Bryan Zink said schools across the valley saw instances of this happening.

He said Wednesday that he hadn’t heard of the October challenge, but noted that the penalty for slapping a teacher or staff member would be serious.

“If that happens, in the state of Nevada that’s battery against a protected person,” Zink said. “Which is a gross misdemeanor, which is pretty much going to automatically be an arrest. Anybody that lays hands on a staff member in a violent fashion, other than to save a life, is going to face consequences.”

TikTok has been removing content related to the challenge, but Zink said users can easily get around it by changing a letter or two in their post.

Officials are trying to proactively get the word out about these kinds of social media challenges, encouraging parents to use oversight apps to see what their children are doing and speak with them directly about the consequences from these kinds of actions.

This issue has manifested itself in schools across the country. LeNeave said she recently spoke with the principal of a sister school in Florida about next month’s challenge.

“A lot of parents allow their students on social media with very little awareness of what their students are actually being exposed to,” LeNeave said. “I do feel that it’s our job as administrators to be as up front and educationally minded with our parents to make sure that they know where this is coming from, what challenges we’re facing at school and how parents can become a part of that solution.”

Contact Jonah Dylan at jdylan@reviewjournal.com. Follow @TheJonahDylan on Twitter.

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