On August 27, 12-year-old Corey Roper of Tucson took part in the TikTok fire challenge.

“Kids use either rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or aerosol cans and light them on fire. Which then entails them catching on fire or the object exploding,” his mom, Tiffany Roper, said from a hospital room which is now like a second home.

Corey set himself on fire.

He’s been hospitalized ever since the incident with second- and third-degree burns on his hands, arms, and body. His mom says it’s only been in the last few days Corey was taken off a ventilator and brought out of sedation.

“He’ll wake up screaming because he thinks he’s still on fire,” Tiffany said.

Tiffany has not gone to TikTok to warn them about what is being published by posters on its site. But school districts nationwide, including 10 from Arizona, are suing TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms. They allege the tech companies’ social media apps cause classroom discipline problems and mental health issues.

“They wanted to rip soap dispensers down. Just anything they could try to do to vandalize and record it and post it,” said Matt Dobesh, the principal at Ruth Fischer Middle School in Tonopah.

In 2022, a TikTok challenge to vandalize your school caused thousands of dollars in damages in the Saddle Mountain Unified School District.

“We will try to report things like harassing and bullying from accounts,” Dobesh said. “We will try to reach out to whoever, Facebook or wherever the postings are done, and you don’t get any responses.”

On Friday, school officials from across the state attended a conference that included a briefing from attorneys about the lawsuit. The Saddle Mountain Unified School District is not one of the districts suing the social media companies. A judge is expected to hear arguments later this year by the tech companies to dismiss the cases against them. They say they are protected by a 1996 law called the Internet Liability Shield.

Meanwhile, in a Tucson hospital, Corey’s recovery is expected to be long and painful.

Friends of his mother have set up a GoFundMe account to help with the medical bills.