Rubble Without A Cause: A Tale of Boys Bathroom Vandalism


Jackie Walker

Vandalism continues on the sign on the bathroom near the courtyard

Rebecca Miller, Staff Writer

Writing on the stalls. Clogged toilets. Inappropriate messages. 

Bromfield students returned to school on September 1st, looking ahead to a more normal school year since the pandemic first sent students home in March of 2020. Yet September, early October, and late November were tarnished by a different outbreak: boys bathroom vandalism.

Principal Hoffman, who has seen many a high school prank during his 36 years in the school, remarked in an interview that “there’s usually some graffiti… there’s usually some mischief,” but never like this. The damage was significant: “We had writing on the walls… a lot of stuff stuffed in the toilets… soap dispensers ripped off the wall. . . A clay piece was destroyed and spread all over the place.”

Mr. Hoffman expressed adamant concern about the level of vandalism and its effect on the responsible parties. “What’s going on? I think there’s more going on with that student. I’d like to know that. We try to be compassionate.”

He also expressed worries about the effects of the clean-up on the custodial staff. “The school’s cleaner than it ever has been. They’re repairing things left and right. [They’re] on the roof all the time trying to figure out where the leak’s coming from. They’re the ones that found the smell from a couple years ago and finally got rid of it. [They] fixed the stairs outside the [art] room… They don’t need to be taken off their game.”

Mr. Walsh, part of the custodial team, emphasized that the vandalism is “frustrating and time-consuming” to the staff, especially the night crew. “The night crew has horror stories of bathroom vandalism.” He remarked on the iniquity of the excess cleaning of unnecessarily vandalized bathrooms “onto an already full shift of work.”

The vandalism has created a negative school atmosphere, in a time when normalcy is the goal. Senior Julian Iverson states that the vandalism and closed bathrooms “make using the bathroom much more inconvenient… I ended up going outside to use a porta-potty because it was closer than walking across the school to get to the nearest usable bathroom.”

Not only is the vandalism inconvenient, it can also be traumatizing and scary. One junior commented, “I have been victim to some rowdy high schoolers who kicked open the stall door while I was defecating and yelled nonsense after doing so, and I still will not go into a stall to this day because of that event.” 

But where does this vandalism come from? For back to school, the popular social media platform, TikTok, had users creating videos where they vandalized or took things from their respective schools. “Devious Lick” TikToks, though many have been flagged and taken down by the platform, were often set to parts of the song “Ski Ski BasedGod” by rapper Lil B. These videos featured the same type of vandalism across the country that Bromfield is currently facing. According to NPR, other schools have reported “a stolen soap dispenser and damaged sink in Florida; intentionally clogged toilets and mirrors and soap dispensers ripped from walls in California; destruction and red dye staining the bathrooms and a teacher’s belongings stolen in Arkansas; ceiling tiles and partitions destroyed in Tennessee” (NPR: Students Are Damaging School Bathrooms for Attention on TikTok).

It is now almost winter and the vandalism continues. More and more bathrooms have been closed for extended periods of time. So what can we do as a community to move forward?

Mr. Hoffman urges the student body to “tell us right away” if they encounter any vandalism or bathroom disruption, so they can work to take care of it to secure a safe, positive, and mutually-trusting school environment. He also urges the responsible student(s) to “come forward” and “own your behavior,” so that they may work together to deliver restorative justice and start a conversation about what’s going on. “Whoever is doing this, it doesn’t make them a bad person. They’re making bad choices, and we need to figure out how to make better choices.”