Evanston school district asks parents' help to end TikTok pranks
October 21, 2021
Editor’s note: This story contains terms that some readers might find offensive.
EVANSTON — Uinta County School District No. 1 has asked for parental help in putting a stop to students attempting to pull off school pranks modeled after challenges circulating on the social media app TikTok.
An email sent to parents on Oct. 7 by Superintendent Ryan Thomas said the challenges trending on TikTok had created an issue at schools across the country, including in Evanston.
One of the circulating challenges in September included vandalizing school bathrooms and stealing items, with additional challenges already circulating for each month of the school year. According to Thomas’s email, October’s challenge is to “smack” a staff member.
“We want to bring this to your attention, as it is important for parents to know what types of content students might encounter online, as well as inappropriate actions they are being encouraged to take,” reads Thomas’s email. “We also want to thank you for being our partners in proactively addressing these types of situations with your child.”
“Inappropriate behavior, like what is being encouraged in these social media trends and challenges, will not be tolerated in our buildings and can have serious disciplinary and legal consequences,” continues the email. “Participating or assisting in one of these trends/challenges, including recording, sharing videos electronically, encouraging, cheering, etc., may also lead to discipline.”
When reached for comment, Thomas said there had been damage and theft at Evanston High School last month and four students were definitively linked to those incidents and “received appropriate consequences, including parent contact.”
According to a report from the Evanston Police Department, four minor students were cited for petit larceny for stealing various items from EHS, including soap dispensers from bathrooms, a classroom stapler, a trophy from a classroom and a fire extinguisher from a hallway.
The students reportedly said they were inspired to take the items by TikTok videos urging students to participate in the “Hitting a Lik” challenge to steal things from school. According to the EPD report, the students returned the missing items after being confronted about the thefts.
Thomas said there had not been any incidents of staff members assaulted as of Oct. 13.
“We do have great students and great parent support; moving forward I anticipate minimal disruption to our schools,” said Thomas.
According to the email to parents, other challenges posted to TikTok for the remainder of the school year include kissing a friend’s girlfriend at school in November, a challenge dubbed “deck the halls and show your balls” in December, “jab a breast” in January and messing up school signs in February.
The challenge posted for March is to make a mess in the courtyard or cafeteria, “grab some eggz” (described as another theft challenge) in April, ditch day in May and flipping off in the front office in June. A challenge for July, when students presumably aren’t in school, is to spray a neighbor’s fence.