Fact Check

'Mandatory Penis Inspection' Prank Keeps on Giving

Suspicions were aroused when it was claimed that said inspections would be conducted by one "Richard Dong."

Published Jan. 29, 2023

 (Facebook screenshot)
Image courtesy of Facebook screenshot
"Mandatory Penis Inspection" flyers posted in high schools across the U.S. and elsewhere are authentic notifications from school administrators.

In January 2023, we began encountering online specimens of a flyer supposedly posted in the hallway of a high school somewhere in the United States notifying students that a "Mandatory Penis Inspection" would soon take place.

It appeared to be a hoax at first glance, and sure enough, it was. It only took a few minutes of investigation to confirm that the hoax was widespread, long-lived, and not confined to the United States. Aided and abetted by the internet, posting (and/or emailing or texting) such notifications has been a common high school "senior prank" for over a decade. 

For one recent example, this photo was shared on Twitter on Jan. 24, 2023: 

Since 2011, if not before, the "Mandatory Penis Inspection" prank has cropped up year after year in different locations, sometimes even garnering media notoriety. In May 2019, for instance, a group of students hacked into their high school's email system to transmit this notification: 

This variant had been posted at another high school just a month before: 

As it turns out, penis inspections aren't just for secondary students. The following variant was posted in a U.S. Navy facility in October 2018. It says inspections will be carried out by one MIDN 1/C Toole: 

The date on this variant of the announcement was May 2017: 

May 2014: 

January 2012: 

The "Mandatory Penis Inspection" tradition (if we may call it that) has provided fodder for many an amusing news story, exemplified by headlines such as this one from the Daily Mail in May 2014: "High school suspects seniors pranked school with official penis inspection letters signed by 'penis inspector' Richard Dong."

The publication of a prank notification to the students of the University of British Columbia in November 22 actually sparked an official notification about the notification: "UBC aware of fake letter about penis inspection making rounds on campus." 

And a breathless article in the April 29, 2017, edition of The Sun was incomparably headlined: "WHAT A COCK-UP: School pupils sent letters about 'mandatory penis inspection' in bizarre sixth form prank." 


"Pupils Sent Prank Letters about 'Mandatory Penis Inspection.'" The Sun, 29 Apr. 2017, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3445157/school-pupils-letters-penis-inspection-hilarious-prank/.

"School Suspects Seniors Pranked School with Penis Inspection Letters." Mail Online, 10 May 2014, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2624864/High-school-suspects-seniors-pranked-school-official-penis-inspection-letters-signed-penis-inspector-Richard-Dong.html.

Florida Student Hacks into School, Announces 'Mandatory Penis Inspection.' 10 May 2019, https://nypost.com/2019/05/09/florida-student-hacks-into-school-announces-mandatory-penis-inspection/.

UBC Aware of Fake Letter about Penis Inspection Found on Campus | News. https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/ubc-fake-inspection-letter-campus. Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

"Hoax Genital Inspection Letter Can Only Mean It's the Start of 'Senior Prank' Season." News 12 - The Bronx, https://bronx.news12.com/hoax-genital-inspection-letter-can-only-mean-its-the-start-of-senior-prank-season-40415833. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.