Vandalism spike in Washington County and other Utah school districts linked to a social media challenge

Students in Utah and nationwide are posting videos of themselves destroying school property.

(Photo courtesy of Steve Dunham, St. George News) Damage from a soda bottle thrown at the windshield of a school bus on South 3000 East, in St. George, Utah, Oct. 7, 2021. |

St. George • A thrown soda bottle recently shattered the windshield of a school bus heading to pick up 100 kindergarten students from Riverside Elementary — one of several incidents officials at the Washington County School District believe are part of a viral social media challenge.

Steve Dunham, communications director for the district, said officials have reason to believe the tossed bottle and other acts of vandalism reported over the course of a month or so may be “Devious Licks” stunts, in which kids damage or steal property and post the videos on the TikTok social media platform.

Students nationwide have recorded themselves stealing items from high schools, tampering with soap dispensers and fire extinguishers and vandalizing school bathrooms. And it’s hit districts across Utah.

Canyons School District has reported thousands of dollars in damage. Granite School District sent out a warning to parents, pleading with them to talk to their students about not participating in the vandalism. Administrators said they’ve heard more challenges are coming with the social media trend that “would have students sexually harass fellow students or assault school employees.”

“We call upon parents and families to help our children understand that such acts are criminal,” Granite wrote in an email sent out in September. “In the interest of our staff and students safety, such acts will be aggressively investigated and charged and invariably, when convicted, students and families will be responsible to compensate for damages.”

In St. George, the school bus targeted on Oct. 7 was heading north on South 3000 East shortly before noon when a soda bottle was thrown at it by an unknown individual in a dark-colored pickup truck heading in the opposite direction. Dunham told St. George News the bottle struck the windshield of the bus, creating a spiderweb of cracks and causing the windshield to cave in nearly 2 inches.

Read more here: Washington County School District says ‘Devious Licks’ TikTok challenge has led to spike in vandalism

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Courtney Tanner contributed to this report. This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aim to inform readers across the state.