Community / Press Release

EMSB issues TikTok challenge warning to parents and guardians

teen boy
Montreal - Thursday, October 14, 2021

There is a recent trend that has been circulating through the TikTok App across North America with potentially serious and dangerous repercussions.  In a letter to parents and a guardians, the English Montreal School Board alludes to   reports about this trend on social media or in the news, referred to as TikTok Challenges.

The most recent TikTok trend is called the “devious licks” challenge where every month students are encouraged to participate in a task that can be derogatory or hurtful to others or themselves (e.g., vandalizing school property, stealing, assaulting school staff members or peers, exposing themselves) and then posting the video on the TikTok App.  

“The EMSB is committed to addressing these behaviors and thus we will be targeting this issue with multiple levels of intervention across our community,” stated a letter signed by Assistant Director General (Education and Innovation) Pela Nickoletopoulos and Regional Director (High Schools) Nathalie Lacroix. “We are asking for your support in this ongoing matter as different problematic behaviors may occur at various times with the specific challenges/trends throughout the year.”

Parents play a vital role in providing a safe place to have discussions with their children about their role and influences on social media. For many teens it is important to feel like they belong to a group of peers and gain public recognition on social media. The EMSB lists some tips on how parents can have a discussion with their children:

  • Open a discussion about the TikTok challenges, include some of the ones you’ve heard about.
  • Highlight that some challenges are funny or helpful while others can be hurtful or destructive. Ask them how they can tell the difference between the two.
  • Discuss what the possible outcomes are for all involved. Ask the questions: Will someone get hurt? Will there be school disciplinary or legal repercussions? Does it help anyone?
  • Emphasize the need to make good choices for themselves and not follow what others are doing when they know or feel something is not right.
  • Be empathetic and nonjudgmental with your child, allow them to lead the discussion and do not interrupt them. Once they have finished, you can provide feedback.
  • For younger children: Sounds-like, looks-like, feel-like, activity: ask your children what the impact of a particular challenge sounds-like (does it result in laughter or crying); looks-like (e.g., smile, grinding teeth, or tears), and feel-like (e.g., happiness/joy, fear, or sadness). Ask them if all who participate will experience the challenge in the same way? Is one laughing and another crying?

The EMSB  will be encouraging students to practice appropriate online behaviors. Parents have been provided with web links to  guide them through ongoing conversations with their children.

Parents Ultimate Guide to TikTok

Quick Guide to TikTok

TikTok’s Top 10 Tips for Parents

Co-viewing With Your Kids – Tip Sheet

13 Online Challenges Your Kids Already Know About

How to talk to your kids about the Devious Licks School TikTok Challenge

About the English Montreal School Board 

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 77 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at