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Kansas Fight Clubs

POSTED: Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 10:06am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:59pm

Street fighting. Fight club. Tap out. The brawls go by different names in Kansas, describing how more and more kids are punching it out and posting their fights online. Police are going after the fighters, they say, before someone gets seriously hurt.

The Goddard Police Department says they've had about a dozen this year and some of the fights get serious. "We had one... that was sent to the hospital," says Goddard Police Chief Sam Houston. "We were afraid that he had a significant injury. Trauma to his head."

Houston calls the fights bloody, disturbing and violent. He is so concerned he took his message to the school board. The Goddard school system responded and let parents know about the fighting in a recent communication.

It read:

"A disturbing trend is being noticed in school districts and communities across the state of Kansas... Large groups of students gather at the locations to watch the fighting... this type of fighting has become more frequent and increasingly physically violent."

"And I don't think the kids get the seriousness of this," says Frances, one disturbed parent in the Wichita area who didn't want to be identified.

Frances says her kids recently got a text about an upcoming fight. Both her kids made the trip to Maize after school to watch, along with about 100 other children. Police in Goddard are getting tough, cracking down on the fighting.

Cops are taking video evidence posted online to the juvenile district attorney's office for possible charges. Police are also taking action to try and punish parents who know about the brawls. The Sheriff in Butler County recently talked with a parent who allowed a mixed martial arts fight in his home between two young teens.

"There are no charges in this particular fight," explains Butler County Sheriff Craig Murphy. "But, I'm gonna take this one case at a time. There could be charges in the future. It all depends on the circumstances."

Goddard Chief Sam Houston says felony charges would be considered if parents are identified. "If we can prove a parent was a willing participant or facilitated this type of behavior," says Houston, "it could be endangerment of a child which is a felony."

Houston has presented at least half a dozen cases to the juvenile district attorney's office, and more could be on the way. "Yes, kids taking pictures could even be charged if a child gets seriously hurt and nobody calls to report the assault in progress incident."

To this point, no child has gone to the hospital in critical condition from one of the fight club fights. "We don't want to see this," says Houston, "...where kids are goaded into fighting and then it turns even more significant and we end up with incidents like Columbine where kids are preyed upon."

Houston calls that a worst-case scenario but he is genuinely concerned. He says the problem is not isolated, and he's been in contact with law officers from several jurisdictions to talk about the problem. While no charges have been filed to date, officers say they continue to search the internet looking for evidence in hopes of stopping the fighting. "Before something bad happens," Houston says.