British Columbia

Vandalism inspired by TikTok challenge forces closure of Okanagan park washrooms

Public washrooms in an Okanagan community park have closed early for the season due to vandalism similar to that seen in schools amid a social media trend known as the "devious licks" TikTok challenge.

Repeat instances of vandalism went on for a month, but damage done last weekend was the worst

The public washrooms in Swalwell Park in Lake Country, B.C., have been repeatedly targeted by vandals who have torn off stall doors, burned soap dispensers and spread feces on the walls. (District of Lake Country/Facebook)

Public washrooms in an Okanagan community park have closed early for the season due to vandalism similar to that seen in schools amid a social media trend known as the "devious licks" TikTok challenge.

On Wednesday, the District of Lake Country announced the washrooms in Swalwell Park were closing earlier than their scheduled closure at the end of October because of repeated vandalism. 

Karen Miller, communications officer for the District of Lake Country, believes the vandalism is connected to the social media challenge.

"We've heard people have different philosophies about what this could be … but we've heard a lot about a 'devious licks' trend on TikTok, and it's become such a problem all over Canada in every kind of washroom," she said Thursday to host Sarah Penton on Radio West.

A TikTok challenge called 'devious licks' has students across North America filming and uploading videos showing vandalism and theft on school property, often in washrooms. These screenshots give a sense of the destruction. (@hayderr/@trentzalitach03/@devious.sink/TikTok)

Schools across Canada and the United States have been plagued by the TikTok challenge, which encourages people to damage school property and post the aftermath on the video-sharing platform.

"We've seen an increased amount of really disgusting vandalism [in the park bathrooms]," Miller said.

"The hardware, the doors for the stalls were torn right off the wall and destroyed, the soap dispensers burned and then even more disgusting, feces spread all over the walls and washrooms — in both male and female washrooms."

The District of Lake Country had to spend about $2,000 to remove graffiti and fix other damage in the washrooms at Swalwell Park. (District of Lake Country/Facebook)

Miller says the mischief went on for a month, but the damage done last weekend was the worst.

The district had to pay about $2,000 to replace the broken hand dryers, soap dispensers and partitions, and to remove the graffiti on cubicles and bricks.

Miller says the park's washrooms were only open during the day, and were frequently used by park visitors and heavily patrolled by security guards, so she wonders how the vandals were able to sneak into the facilities.

"The washrooms are checked frequently. The parks are monitored. But obviously, you know, it can't be 24-7," she said.

Miller says the park bathroom closure will be an inconvenience to seniors and mothers with young children.

"It does impact a wide segment of the community."

Last month, TikTok removed all videos, hashtags and search results related to the "devious licks" challenge.

Miller urges young people to have a conversation with their friends who indicate they want to do the social media challenge.

"It doesn't make you a rat to protect the community that you live in."

With files from Radio West


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