‘Smack a Teacher’ and TikTok’s Alleged Challenge Calendar

(Courtesy of TikTok)

(Courtesy of TikTok)

In the past month, TikTok challenges have encouraged students to commit crimes, ranging from petty theft to extreme vandalism. Now these challenges have gone as far as assault.

“Devious Licks” was a popular challenge on TikTok where students would steal from school and display these ‘licks’ on their account. Quickly, the magnitude of the things stolen snowballed and schools across the country had to take action. This included the new 20/20 policy at Parkview High School.

In the month of October, focus has shifted from “Devious Licks” to a new challenge- ‘Smack a Teacher.’ Like “Devious Licks”, it ranges in intensity, and students are being criminally charged.

In Louisiana, an 18-year old was charged with felony battery after a video came out of her attacking her 64-year old teacher, even after she had collapsed, allegedly as a result of the challenge. An elementary student in South Carolina struck a teacher on the back of the head. TikTok denies the existence of the challenge. 

However, these challenges do bring forth the question: what is the line between a game to an actual crime?

“Devious Licks is more popular. If [Smack a Teacher] was to be popular, people would have done it already… When more than one person does it, or people keep doing it, then you all get in trouble,” said sophomore Devan Sloan El.

Though these challenges don’t stop here. There is an alleged calendar of challenges spanning from August to July. These challenges include: November- kiss your friend’s girlfriend at school, January- jab a breast, June- flip off the front office, and many more. 

Calvin Watts, the Gwinnett County superintendent, issued a letter to parents about these challenges in early October. 

“In October, a new social media challenge has emerged, calling for students to slap a teacher on the backside,” Watts said. “Let me be very clear. Each and every person, especially each teacher, deserves our utmost respect and this behavior will not be tolerated.

“Encouraging others to strike another person is not funny. It is not appropriate to behave in this manner toward anyone, much less a teacher. In fact, it is sexual assault and will be treated as such in our school district.

“One of the most important actions we can take as adults is to help our young people develop their instincts — instincts that can serve them well in the real world and in the online world. Please continue to help your children understand that, while social media can help them to feel connected, not all information or people on social media can be trusted.

“Explain to them that they are responsible for their own words and actions on social media and that many of those actions may follow them for the remainder of their educational and professional careers. And, as a result, they need to realize that some behaviors encouraged on social media can get them into trouble at home, at school and even with the police.”

Students need to be aware of the consequences of their actions. There is no harm in engaging with trends and challenges, and the opportunity to gain popularity from it is enticing to most. But students should examine the impact and make educated choices. ‘Clout’ is not worth jail time.