High School Fight Clubs May Be Common

The first rule of fight club, as stated in both the 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk and the 1999 film starring Brad Pitt, is that you don't talk about fight club. Yet many high school students are doing much more than talking about their fight clubs. Despite repeated crackdowns, student fight clubs have become brazen in their openness, and they may be more prevalent than you'd expect.

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Fight Clubs Go Viral

Teen fight clubs have been an issue for many years. A loose facsimile of what appears in the Fight Club novel and film, these clubs are built around violent brawls that can range from underground, bare-knuckle boxing matches to merciless beatings of kids who don't choose to participate. When a Denver news channel began investigating fight clubs at area high schools, they uncovered more than a few isolated incidents. As it turns out, students from a multitude of Denver-area schools had been had been posting videos of their fights on YouTube.

The fight clubs weren't new to to the Internet, either; when the report aired, some had been available for viewing for several years. There were videos with thousands of views and myriad comments from local students. In addition to the videos that were on YouTube, other students seen in the videos were holding cell phone cameras, making additional recordings of the fights. These illegal clubs aren't limited to Colorado, as high schools around the country have likewise been plagued by underground fighting.

Consequences of Fight Clubs

Students who post videos of fight clubs on YouTube, including the students discovered in Denver, expose themselves, the fight participants and the visible bystanders in the videos to a panoply of negative consequences. First and foremost, all of the students could face criminal charges. Those fighting could be charged with assault, while those encouraging the fighting are potentially accessories to a crime.

While many students are identifiable in the videos by their faces, students go further by including full names in the video descriptions and comments. This more blatantly implicates those involved. It also creates a public record that could haunt participants for decades to follow. When they apply for college, or are ready to begin their careers, these ugly episodes of their past may be all too easy to find by those doing a basic background check and character analysis.

Keeping Your Child Safe

Many of the parents of the children who were exposed as fight club participants were shocked. Children as young as 12 have been caught up in the clubs. There are key steps you can take to help your child avoid a similar fate.

First, discuss with your child the importance of being a responsible citizen. While many kids may understand the inherent problem with participating in an organized fight, they may not get that the bystanders are also committing a crime. While it may not be possible to step in and break up a fight, it's their duty to alert someone that the fights are taking place. At the very least, they shouldn't be egging on the participants.

Second, the YouTube scandal presents a learning opportunity around proper cell phone use. If your child carries a cell phone, make sure that he or she is aware of the liability its camera brings. Cell phones can be essential in an emergency, but recording something like a fight club is opening yourself up to trouble. This lesson can be extended to include what is and isn't safe to post on YouTube, particularly when it involves classmates.

Finally, your child should be conscious of the effects fight clubs and fight club videos can have on those involved. In many cases, fight clubs are a form of excessive and violent bullying. Students with low self esteem may be lured into a fight, only to be driven further in mental despair when they're mocked by commenters on YouTube. While the underground nature of fight clubs makes them difficult to eradicate, having open and honest discussions with your child can help to lessen his or her risk of getting involved.

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