Students vandalizing, hanging out in school bathrooms; Security and students weigh in

Signs throughout the bathrooms at Parkdale have been posted in hopes to halt the recurring vandalism.

Johnny Martinez Duran

Signs throughout the bathrooms at Parkdale have been posted in hopes to halt the recurring vandalism.

During recent Parkdale morning announcements, principal Dr. Tasha Graves has asked students to stop vandalizing the school bathrooms, property, and to stop hanging out in the bathrooms, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, some details are left ambiguous and leave many questions: what is the graffiti saying? How are the bathrooms being vandalized? Why are students hanging out in the bathrooms? 

Security personnel Ms. Brown has seen the damages done to the bathrooms at Parkdale, particularly in the girls’.

“[There are] gang signs, yesterday, we had some graffiti in the girls bathroom referring to another student,” she explained. “You know the TikTok challenge with the toilet paper? That actually happened here on the first floor boys’ bathroom [and] the whole floor was covered.”

The TikTok challenge Ms.Brown referred to was called the “devious licks challenge” which became a huge trend on TikTok back in September of last year with the hashtag #deviouslicks amassing millions of views. This trend saw many schools across the nation become inundated with students vandalizing and stealing school property. However, since Sept. 15, 2021, TikTok has removed any content relating to the challenge stating that it violated their community guidelines and later issuing a statement on twitter. 

While the incidents that occurred in the bathroom could be attributed to a past trend, the actions done in the school bathrooms inconvenience others. Because Ms.Brown is the only security guard watching over the Annex building of the school, she has resorted to locking bathrooms in response to cases of vandalism in order to maintain some control over who comes in and out of the bathrooms. 

Ms. Brown explained that these incidents of vandalism are not being reported directly to her but that she herself has to find it or maintenance reports it to her. She recounts a recent event where the maintenance man told her “Brown, you can’t believe it” after finding the boys bathroom covered in toilet paper.

She added that she feels sympathetic towards the maintenance team as she believes that they get tired of constantly being called over due to unnecessarily-caused concerns in the bathrooms. 

Students are also impacted by the vandalism and their peers hanging in the bathrooms.

“It’s an inconvenience because sometimes you need to use [the bathroom]” says senior Joanna Ventura Gomez, referring to the bathrooms being locked. While Ms. Brown explained that locking the bathrooms is a security measure to maintain control over the bathrooms, it leaves students having to search throughout the school for an unlocked bathroom. 

On each bathroom door throughout the school, a sign is posted stating that only three people at a time can be in the bathroom. However, the school is reporting that students continually hang out in the schools bathrooms despite the ongoing COVID pandemic.

“I go to the ladies room and there’s girls hanging in the bathroom and I make this speech all the time,” said Ms. Brown. “This is COVID, [and] regardless of COVID, there’s germs.  It’s nasty; the bathrooms are nasty point-blank.” 

For vandalizing school bathrooms students can be criminally charged. explains that under Maryland law, property valued less than $1,000 is subject to a $500 fine and 60 days imprisonment and that property valued at least $1,000 is subject to a $2,500 fine and three years imprisonment.

Other methods, alongside locking bathrooms, are being used to try and prevent further incidents from occurring.

“I go out in the hallway when the bell rings and it’s going to be lunch time, I stand out in the hallway to monitor and see the bathrooms,” said Ms. Brown. “I stand out there trying to monitor the restrooms and the hallway. Be vigilant and make myself seen in the hallway.”

Other measures aim at bathroom passes. Like the new electronic pass system  implemented at Parkdale, the New Kensington-Arnold School District in Pennsylvania has also implemented a form of the electronic pass system or “the e-pass”. The difference between Parkdale’s e-pass and New Kensington-Arnold’s e-pass is that KSA requires that students apply for the pass then the teacher uses a pin code to approve or deny it the application. This system aims to keep students who have a history of meeting in the bathrooms from meeting and limits the number of passes given out. 

However, Ms.Brown proposes a whole new type of solution to help alleviate the problems in the bathroom.

“I think maybe if we get the students more involved, and maybe painting murals or doing constructive stuff on the walls, and I guess being treated better than they’re being treated could result in less vandalism,” she explained.

She later went on to say that the school principal could meet with students to discuss their needs, acknowledging that while not all needs could be met just sitting down with students could help cut the damage done to property and inform students of the consequences if they were to get caught vandalizing property.