Friends and Neighbors,
We need your help. Our high school youth are participating in a disturbing trend that has largely been kept in the shadows. We need your help to get it out in the light of day so we can protect them from its harmful effects. “Fight nights” are currently being hosted at various homes, with our high school kids attending in large numbers. They involve one youth calling another out to fight. They don gloves and fight for 30-second intervals or, occasionally, until one is knocked senseless or unconscious. This process is often repeated so there could be several fights in a given night and any youth in attendance could get called out.
In addition to the legal ramifications for youth associated with this activity, there are numerous inherent dangers. There is no protective headgear and no trained referee to stop a fight when a youth is rendered defenseless. There is no doctor present to assess the injured youth and no one to stop a concussed youth from getting into a car and driving, putting him- or herself and the public at large at risk. Injured youth are also unlikely to acknowledge their injuries to a parent because of the secretive nature of these gatherings, thus their injuries may go untreated.
On their policy statement about boxing, the American Academy of Pediatrics has this to say: “The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the sport of boxing for children, adolescents, and young adults. Amateur boxing is a collision sport in which winning is based on the number and force of punches successfully landed on an opponent’s head and/or body. This deliberately exposes boxing participants to potentially devastating neurologic and ocular injuries.”
The youth who attend these fights may think they are just observers and will never participate, but what happens if they do get called out? Even if they don’t want to fight, they may feel pressure to participate or endure shaming or ridicule from their peers. Some youth claim that everybody goes to these fights and that it doesn’t seem wrong because the parents of the youth sponsoring the fight are present when the fights are occurring. Let’s make no mistake about it—this creates opportunities for bullying and assault, and if parents are in attendance, they could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors.
Please join us in getting the word out about the dangers of fight nights. We encourage you to talk to your youth about it. Ask them if they have attended and if they have fought. You may be surprised by their response. We can spend large amounts of money and resources on anti-bullying campaigns, but if parents endorse this type of fighting and authorities ignore it, what message are we really sending to our youth? Please take action and help ensure the health, safety, and welfare of our children.
This message supported by the Timpview High School PTA and Principal Todd McKee; AnnMarie Howard, Juab County Prosecutor; and Dr. John Wynn of Utah Valley Pediatrics.