HAVERHILL — Haverhill High School is bracing for the next monthly TikTok “Devious Licks” challenge in which students are being encouraged to slap or “smack” a teacher or other school staff member then run before being caught.
The challenge also encourages students to video record the assault and post it on social media.
Principal Jason Meland notified parents and staff via his Sunday newsletter of the possibility of this challenge emerging at Haverhill High School and said the school has zero tolerance for such behavior.
“We will continue to inform you of these dangerous challenges and remind you and our scholar that any scholar who participates in these challenges in any way will face significant school discipline and law enforcement consequences,” he said. “Our school community must be safe, secure, and welcoming for all scholars, teachers, staff, and community members.”
Per a statement from a TikTok spokesperson released on Monday "dangerous challenges and illegal behavior are not allowed on our platform and will be removed."
"We expect teens to use common courtesy both online and IRL (in real life,) and we're committed to helping support messages about being good digital stewards," the statement read.
The original challenge — encouraging students to destroy and steal school property — hit the area three weeks ago with several incidents of vandalism being reported in both Haverhill schools and others around the Merrimack Valley.
Two weeks ago high school officials also cracked down on students involved in two fights and also students who recorded a fight on their phones.
Meland and Superintendent Margaret Marotta told parents the mental health and behavior challenges that all schools deal with in normal times now seem to be exacerbated by the pandemic.
In response to the recent incidents, police have added a second school resource officer to the high school.
Two new police officer positions recently approved by the mayor allowed police to reassign one existing patrol officer to the high school and a second officer to the department’s new psychological counseling team.
“We’ve always had a school resource officer (SRO) at the high school as long as I can remember but given some of the issues that have taken place at the beginning of this year we believe, and the mayor agreed, that it’s a good time to add a second SRO,” Police Chief Robert Pistone said.
“The school superintendent and I are very aware that parents are very concerned about some of the recent incidents at the high school, and I am pleased to see the school department taking swift action to add another SRO as well as other changes to address the situation,” Mayor James Fiorentini said.