If you’ve been around youngsters long enough or even remember your own youth, you’ll know that pranks pretty much come with the territory. I mean, who hasn’t participated in adorning a friend or neighbor’s yard with toilet paper? Or what about the common “ding dong ditch” prank, which includes a youngster or two stealthily reaching a home’s front door, ringing the doorbell, and then quickly running off to avoid getting caught and watching the reaction of the homeowner?
However, in the past few months, it seems these common and altogether harmless, if not infuriating pranks, have been taken to a whole new level – and one that could not only cause severe property damage but could also wind up getting someone shot.
Enter the ‘door kicking’ challenge recently begun on the TikTok social media platform.
For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s simple. While listening to the song “Die Young” by Kesha, young people are kicking front doors, some hard enough to break them open. And then, of course, running for the hills. It began on a few school and college campuses but now has moved to more residential neighborhoods.
In Petaluma, California, two 911 calls have been made so far to local police departments after residents’ front doors were kicked in by the challenge. One was caught on camera by the home’s surveillance system and reportedly cost the homeowners hundreds in damages.
And as Petaluma Police Department’s Jennifer Pritchard warns, “There are felonies or misdemeanors involved when there’s property damage.”
But what’s even more problematic than the possible charges after such property damage has occurred is that to more than a few unsuspecting homeowners, this isn’t perceived as a mere prank that may cost them a new front door. Instead, when being woken up in the middle of the night by loud banging on their front door, they may imagine a full-blown home invasion, robbery, or worse.
And as a result, they may just decide to come to the door with a gun.
As Pritchard explained to Fox, to these residents, they are experiencing what could be a “real life or death situation.” And when given the decision to protect their home or loved ones, they will provide an “equal response.” The result of which could end a young man or woman’s life.
This is only complicated by the fact that a record number of Americans have bought firearms in the last few years, with many of them being first-time gun owners. As Gabriel Vaughn of Petaluma’s Sportsman’s Arms told KTVU, he’s sold as many as 12 handguns in a mere two hours before. And most of those were to people who didn’t have any idea what they were doing, besides buying themselves personal protection equipment.
“People tell me that they don’t like guns, but they’re here to begrudgingly buy one, and if it makes somebody fee safe and they’re legal to own one, then sure.”
Ammo sales are also way up.
This means that instead of having a firearm-trained homeowner answer the kicking in of their door, someone who may choose to fire a warning shot into the ceiling or the floor, we are much more likely to have a panicked first-timer simply firing rounds in every direction possible and possibly right into the chest of an unsuspecting, albeit not so sound-minded, teenager.
The choice of song – Die Young – seems more and more appropriate by the second, doesn’t it?
Now, to be clear, this is no fault of the homeowner or the new gun owner. He or she has every right to protect themselves, be that with a gun or not. And in many, many states, the law confirms this by not allowing innocent homeowners from being prosecuted for simply protecting their own.
However, it doesn’t make the incident any less tragic.
The fault, instead, should be aimed at social media platforms like TikTok who permit such “criminal activities” to be posted. In September, TikTok defended themselves, stating that content that “promotes or enables criminal activities” are not permitted according to their Community Guidelines.
And yet, for months now, the “door-kicking” trend has been allowed to continue on their site, as has another challenge that encourages students to steal or break things like toilets from their school bathrooms. Yet another TikTok challenge encourages students to literally and abusively slap their teachers.
As Forest Gump says, “Stupid is as stupid does.”