On Sept. 30, Richmond County School Superintendent Kenneth Bradshaw sent a letter to parents warning them that they, as well as their children, will be held responsible for any damage caused by their kids who might participate in internet-originated “challenges.”
School systems throughout the United States are sending out similar warnings over an internet trend called “devious licks” being promoted primarily by the internet app TikTok, which issues a monthly challenge for students to commit sometimes illegal acts to gain “likes” on the site.
At first, the challenges included personally dangerous acts such as ingesting Tide pod detergents, but now they have evolved to include committing acts of vandalism and violence.
There are multiple internet challenges on social media apps aimed at preteens and teens, and some involve kids getting into fights and posting the action on the internet. Many of these recorded fights involve the sudden ambushing and assault of an individual, which is a crime.
A Richmond County parent was recently arrested for getting involved in a fight between her daughter and another girl on school property, and the video of the assault situation immediately went viral on social media with the footage of the woman instructing her daughter to “beat her ass (name redacted), beat her ass!”
It was not known whether the fight was related to a specific challenge.
The letter from Bradshaw to parents says in part, “Students who participate in these challenges, fights, threats, as well as recording and distributing images of such incidents, create significant distractions in the learning environment. These activities include damaging, stealing, or vandalizing school property, aggression, and improper touching of persons.”
TWO VIDEOS BELOW OF THE INCIDENT.
According to WSB-TV in Atlanta, last month’s national TikTok challenge was to cause damage to toilets and bathroom plumbing in schools. In Hall County, Ga., which includes the city of Gainesville, the challenge resulted in thousands of dollars in damage. Hall County School Superintendent Will Schofield told the television station that it was easy to identify the students as the vandalism was broadcast on the internet.
In that situation, the parents of the students involved were given the bill for the damages.
The October TikTok challenge is for students to “slap a teacher on the rear.” According to Columbia County District Attorney Bobby Christine, unwanted touching of someone in an intimate part of their body amounts to sexual battery.
“We take this very seriously in Columbia County; we need help from parents to teach their children that this is a criminal act,” Christine said, adding that what apps on the internet may deem a simple prank can have serious criminal repercussions.
Augusta District Attorney Jared Williams was out of town this week at a conference, issued a statement on his social media account which reads: “(P)arents, you are in the best position to make sure your child stays in the classroom and out of the courtroom. Please talk to your kids about these ‘challenges’ and make sure they stay safe and out of trouble.”
Richmond County School Board Member Venus Cain, while applauding the superintendent’s letter, said she is troubled that sometimes parents not only condone such behavior by inattentiveness but also sometimes participate because they think they or their kid might become the next internet sensation.
On Sept. 15, Jasmine Jackson, 33, was arrested at Glenn Hills High School Stadium shortly after a Glenn Hills Middle School football game finished. Police reports list her as a parent/guardian of a student at the middle school.
The video produced clearly shows Jackson verbally and then physically participating in a fight between her daughter and another girl. Jackson does not attempt to break up the fight.
Jackson was arrested for disorderly conduct and booked into the Richmond County Detention Center and the video of her involvement in the fight was immediately shared all over social media.
According to Cain, such a situation as the one that happened at Glenn Hills should serve as a wakeup call for parents to be put on notice that they may be held responsible for the acts of their children because of either inattention, outright neglect or participation in the internet challenges.
Cain joined the superintendent and other officials in asking for parents to monitor their children’s social media accounts and report any suspicious activity.
“These kids have to be taught to understand that a juvenile record might go away, but what is on the internet is forever. You may put something out there that will ruin you when you decide to get your life together. It will always be out there to ruin you,” Cain said.
A tip line for Richmond County parents has been set up at the number (706) 828-1077.