TRUMANN/PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 News investigation has revealed disturbing details involving teenagers and young adults. In mid-September, Region 8 News searched the popular video-sharing web-site, YouTube, for videos portraying fighting amongst teens. By typing a city's name followed by the keyword "fights", the investigation led to the discovery of six different cities with fights, several of which had more than one posted video.
"It's stupid. It's needless fighting amongst the kids," said Tony Williams with the Paragould Police Department. "I don't understand why the kids are actually getting each other to fight so they can videotape it. We really don't know if they're just doing it for fun or if they're actually mad at each other."
Region 8 News showed the video to Williams and Detective Erik Wilbanks with the Trumann Police Department. Results from Paragould and Trumann turned up more than one posted fight. Other cities included Osceola, Blytheville, Pocahontas and Wynne.
"Regardless of what the cases are, kids videotaping fights and actually putting them on YouTube, they really don't understand what position they're putting themselves in," said Williams.
According to Williams, teenagers who engage in fighting can face disturbing the peace charges. The teens can also face charges if one of the participants suffers injuries.
"They can be subject to criminal charges, which the least of the battery charges would be battery 3rd degree, which is a class a misdemeanor. That would be punishable with $1,000 fine or up to a year in the county jail," said Williams.
"A chance of these kids getting hurt and they may not see it that way. They may not think they can get hurt or they're not doing anything that wrong, but somebody could get seriously hurt," said Wilbanks. "Anytime somebody gets hurt, they can press charges on the other person. Say two are fighting there and it does become battery. If one of them gets hurt, physical injury would be a misdemeanor. Serious physical injury steps up to a felony."
Both Williams and Wilbanks told Region 8 News that professional fighting organizations may have helped fuel the popularity of posting online videos.
"With the MMA being televised, it does put ideas in their head. It is more easily accessed and they can accomplish it easier," said Wilbanks. "It maybe even promotes it or gets kids to think about doing it to get themselves on YouTube. It's just not good."
"What they don't understand are these people are trained entertainers. Yes, the fighting is real. Yes, they're going to be injured. But they're trained professionals," said Williams.
In many of the videos examined, teenagers watching the fights were using fowl language and encouraging the fighters.
"If these kids choose to act that way, then of course it's illegal, but we don't want them setting examples for smaller kids that may be in the area," said Wilbanks.
Wilbanks viewed a video shot at the Trumann City Park. The YouTube description said the fight was posted on October 22, 2008. It shows two teenagers fighting less than 100 yards from Cedar Park Elementary School and Wee Cat Academy.
"This could put a thought in a kid's head to get in a fight and get themselves on YouTube. We just want it to stop. We don't want it promoted in any way," said Wilbanks. "Just let you know the seriousness of it. If somebody does get hurt, you're going to be an accessory to it. You could have property seized from you. It's as easy or simple as during the fight, a kid falls and hits his head and gets a concussion. You're starting to look at battery two charges now. Those are felony charges. For some of these kids that are older and are pushing that 18 mark, you're liable to be charged as an adult."
"A lot of these kids have the misconception that I'm not 18 years old, they can't do a whole lot to me. What they don't realize is if the injuries are serious enough, even though they're 16, 17 years old. They can still be charged as an adult," said Williams.
Region 8 News showed Williams a video that was recorded behind Dicky's Pool Hall in Paragould. The video, posted on June 29, 2009, portrays two teenagers fighting. One teen gets the other on the ground and continues to throw punches.
"By watching these videos, it makes you mad because these kids do not realize what they're doing or the position they're putting themselves or their parents in," said Williams. "If they're charged as an adult, that criminal record is going to follow them for life."
"You can't say it didn't happen when it's right there on tape and you could watch it," said Williams.
Scotty Spence of Trumann has posted videos of his son, Josh, sparring with other teenagers. He said he doesn't believe his videos break any laws because they are not done with violence in mind.
"They got mouth pieces and got boxing gloves and a lot of times they wear head gear," said Spence. "I've had as much as 20 kids over here boxing in a round robin or whatever. It's just to box and it is entertaining, but it's not violence. It's not where they get each other down and hold each other down."
Spence said his son has been learning the art of boxing by trained professionals.
"It's a competition to him. It's not who he can beat up. It's how good he is with boxing," said Spence. "He wants to start out as amateur to where he can work himself up through the ranks. He can be with somebody that is going to train him, and he can have a good manager to where he wants to have a career at something he loves doing."
Spence said children posting videos online show disrespect to their parents. He also said the posting of his son's videos are no different from professional fighting organizations on TV.
"UFC and the MMA, a lot of that is where it stems from. You don't see a lot of kids out boxing," said Spence. "You know, they think that's cool and they don't understand the consequences of it."
"Parents understand that hey, it is just a sport. But when they come over here with gloves off, ready to hurt each other, that's where I step in and stop them. I'm not going to have somebody suing me on a lawsuit on my yard saying, well, you let them fight on your yard over there," said Spence.