TikTok Challenges Addressed With High School Students, State Leaders

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Viral TikTok challenges have garnered the attention of state leaders. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Attorney General William Tong met Thursday with students, staff and administrators at New Britain High School for an emergency summit.

New Britain High closed for one day in September, in part because of the "devious licks" challenge, where students vandalize school property.

“It was a bold move, but it was the right move for our students and the families got a lot of people's attention, that is for sure. But it was doing a reset to say this is not who we are in New Britain, this is not how we're going to be when we're in our schools. And we've seen, we've seen a marked difference in you raise expectations, and people will rise. But we need to remember that as a community,” said Nancy Sarra, the superintendent of the Consolidated School District of New Britain.

The superintendent said that since closing, the district has not had persistent problems. Sarra said the real problem goes beyond TikTok.

“During the pandemic, services closed down, mental health services closed down. People who were struggling, weren't getting the necessary supports. This is community, nationwide, this isn't a New Britain thing. And the politics should be kept out of it. What we have to talk about is how are we all going to come together to solve the problems in the community, because we're just a microcosm of our community, our students are coming with challenges that their families also have. So, while we can look at some of the symptoms that we are seeing presenting here, we have to look at the larger community and we have to stop the misinformation. We have to stop the people who just want that two seconds of fame or just continuing to, to celebrate events that shouldn't be celebrated,” said Sarra.

The emergency summit happened a week after Tong sent a letter to the CEO of TikTok asking for a sit-down meeting in Connecticut. The attorney general wrote in that letter that he wants TikTok to commit to reforms to stop the spread of dangerous content.

In response to the “devious licks” challenge, TikTok said in a statement that it's removing the content and redirecting hashtags and search results to their community guidelines.

The other challenge Tong referenced was “slap a teacher,” but a TikTok spokesperson said that is “not a trend on TikTok, but we would remove videos promoting such behavior if posted."

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