A retired teacher posted an emotional plea on Facebook asking students to combat the cruel challenges trending on TikTok.
Tony Garcia, a former teacher in Fort Collins, Colorado had no expectations of going viral, but his post has been shared thousands of times.
Garcia heard from a former coworker students at his old school had been participating in the "devious licks" challenge. He then learned one student even slapped a teacher for another TikTok challenge.
In an interview with Fox News, Garcia said:
"She told me our school had been vandalized."
"The next day, my brother told me his school had also been vandalized as a result of the TikTok devious licks challenge."
"I saw that the challenge for October was to smack a teacher and I simply could not sit silent anymore."
So he penned an open letter to all students who want to go viral with these challenges.
His post read:
"Dear Students, I am just an old, retired teacher who knows not of certain things. Admittedly, this old school relic may have lost touch with your generation."
"I don't understand the idea of influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, and the various other things that now consume your time and capture your interest."
"But I am writing you today to present a new challenge to you. Because I think some old school lessons would do us all some good right about now."
He then explained his proposal.
"So here is what I would love to see as your next TikTok school challenge: be a good and kind human being."
"How about you make that go viral? What say we get a million views of you doing something decent and humane and simply beautiful?"
He added what his experience taught him.
"Because here is what I do know."
"It takes much more courage and strength to be a loving, caring person than it does to vandalize a bathroom."
"It takes bravery to go sit with the new kid. It takes strength to stand up for the kid being picked on."
"It takes fearlessness to genuinely thank your teacher at the end of class. It takes grit and audacity to help the substitute teacher feel welcomed."
He also acknowledged kindness wasn't the road to popularity.
"I know, I know. None of that is likely to make you trendy or part of the crowd or a viral sensation."
"But maybe it is time to buck the trend. To set yourself apart from the crowd. To quietly go about the business of influencing a single life for the better."
However he underestimated his reach.
"I suspect this letter will not find its way to very many of you. I am not a likely candidate to go viral."
"And, should you read it, it may not impact you at all. Perhaps you'll simply roll your eyes and shrug off this old man on your way to something more glittery."
"Or maybe, just maybe, I'll hear about the students who decided they were stronger, braver, and knew better than to lower themselves to a challenge that sets out to damage property and hurt others."
For any students who chose kindness over cruelty or destruction, he added:
"If you are that student, know that I look forward to seeing and hearing how you accepted my challenge."
"And, although I know it may not mean that much, you will have gained a new fan, a new follower, a new subscriber."
"With respect, hope, & love, An old teacher"
Garcia's words have certainly resonated with those who've read the message.
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Maru Leisenheimer Pahl/Facebook
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Garcia told Fox News:
"They're letting me know they are sharing the letter with their children, with their students."
"A teacher in a small Indiana town told me her Assistant Principal read the letter during morning announcements to the 550 high schools they serve."
"That single act alone touched my heart."
Hopefully, this message reaches and truly impacts the students that need to hear it.