Students threaten violence, organize activist movements through social media

February 11, 2022

Sophomore+Kaydence+Greene+watches+TikTok+videos+during+a+debate+club+meeting+on+Jan.+26.+TikTok+is+one+social+media+platform+through+which+individuals+spread+violent+rhetoric.

Mahika Sharma

Sophomore Kaydence Greene watches TikTok videos during a debate club meeting on Jan. 26. TikTok is one social media platform through which individuals spread violent rhetoric.

In recent years, social media has become increasingly popular as a medium through which students can spread threats of violence against their peers and educational facilities. In September, the “devious licks” trend raged on TikTok nationally, urging students to steal or vandalize school property. In videos under #DeviousLicks on TikTok, one can see theft ranging from soap dispensers in the bathrooms to entire desks from teachers’ classrooms. In some clips, students even remove doors from their hinges and write on walls with permanent marker. 

The magnitude of the licks became so great at CHS that staff made attempts to quell the stealing. Administrators made an announcement over the loudspeaker on Sept. 13 warning students against partaking in licks and threatening legal action against those that were caught in the act; additionally, certain bathrooms were blocked from use. Over the next couple weeks, the bathrooms were reopened and refurbished. However, the widespread success of the trend caused concern about the dangers of social media.

“[With] the potential of media campaigns, the question is how [social media] influences what someone might act on—that’s always a concern,” Snyder said. “So, those calls for action can be very scary.”

Additionally, there have been multiple instances where physical threats against schools were made over social media platforms. For example, the uptick seen in Richmond involved bomb threats and gun violence circulating through TikTok and Instagram. These incidents followed the Oxford High School shooting in Michigan, during which a student shot and killed four classmates with his father’s handgun. 

Students perform walkout led by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) on Friday, Dec. 17 in protest of a student-on-student altercation, during which racist and Islamaphobic remarks were thought to be made, on Dec. 14 at Fairfax High School. MSA promoted the walkout through social media, which has become widely popular as a tool for student activists to organize peace. (Mahika Sharma)

Instagram accounts posting videos of students physically fighting each other have popped up in many students’ feeds within the CHS community. One such page, “chantillyhsfights,” has amassed hundreds of followers and almost 2,000 views on two of its posts, which feature close-up videos of students pushing, shoving and pummeling each other in different parts of the school. 

“I thought it was really weird how [the account] documents fights like that. It feels out of place, I guess,” Tran said. “I think one of them [took place] literally just down the hallway [from where I am standing], so very close to us, and, in general, scary.”

However, social media has also allowed students a platform on which to organize peace and advocate social issues in light of school violence. Throughout the nation, students protest about several different issues, including racism, sexual assault and reproductive rights. A peaceful walkout on Dec. 16 at Fairfax High School in protest of a student-on-student altercation, during which racist and Islamaphobic remarks were thought to be made, was followed by a similar demonstration at CHS that Friday. The Muslim Student Association (MSA) organized Chantilly’s walkout and promoted it on Instagram, causing many students to repost the message. 

“It’s important that we all unite, no matter what area you’re from, to help protest,” MSA president and senior Ayham Elayan said. “I feel like I’ve faced a lot of support here at Chantilly, [which] I’m very glad about. It’s a very friendly and welcoming environment.”

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About the Photographer
Photo of Mahika Sharma
Mahika Sharma, Editor-in-Chief

Mahika is a senior in her third year with The Purple Tide. Constantly looking to further her passion for rhetoric, she is heavily involved in Model UN,...

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