Decatur bathrooms vandalized, monitored, and closed

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Soap dispensers in Decatur bathrooms are being vandalized, which is one reason for monitoring and closing bathrooms.

Student restrooms are locked, basic sanitary supplies are missing, and monitors are looking under stalls while students are using them are a few elements of Decatur students’ limited bathroom privileges so far this school year.

Another issue that has caused Decatur to limit students’ restroom experiences is an internet trend created by TikTok users, known as “Devious Licks.” The nationwide trend has promoted theft and vandalism within schools by bringing a stolen object from the school home and recording video of it with smartphones.

In most of Decatur’s bathrooms, at least one if not two soap dispensers are ripped from walls and have gone missing. All the vandalized dispensers have been disposed of by students in the trash can, feet away from the scene, according to Principal Tom Sites.

“Soap and paper towel dispensers are all that we’ve seen with the TikTok trend, but none were stolen, they were just found in the bathroom trash can,” Sites said.

Restrooms being locked throughout the day has to do with limiting groups of students standing around in the bathrooms, according to Assistant Principal Trevor Hill.

“Numerous times, I have seen a group of the same students standing around in the bathrooms for no reason. Locking them helps with keeping kids safe from COVID outbreaks throughout our school and to encourage students to make good choices while in the bathrooms,” Hill said.

Hill said Decatur custodians have been called in to monitor the school’s restrooms in between and throughout classes in an effort to limit the number of students in restrooms. These custodians have been assigned to sit outside the restrooms, or even inside the restrooms, next to stalls.

“Having an extra set of eyes and ears to look for activities kids are pursuing that they shouldn’t be encourages good choice making within Decatur students,” Hill said.

During a pandemic, it is crucial to have sanitary supplies, such as soap and paper towels, but multiple Decatur students have been shorted of this right because of the few students vandalizing these supplies, provoked by the internet trend. Having fewer available restrooms also means students may have to walk farther to an available restroom.

“We replaced one soap dispenser in the boys bathroom,” Hill said, “and it was gone again within a week.”

First-year custodian Josh Stearman said he has been asked to monitor boys’ restrooms all day long.

“It’s a shame that five or so kids ruined it for everyone else, because I know when I was in school, I wouldn’t want to be looked at constantly while in the bathroom,” he said.

Students have felt uncomfortable while using the bathroom when observing custodians looking under students’ stall for suspicious activities.

Sites said vandalizing school property now can lead to bigger problems later in life for students, “if this is something you think you can get away with.”

“You’re kids now, and under 18, but once you turn 18 you will really feel the wrath of the law,” he said.