Two disturbing videos on YouTube showing several Bulloch County teens fighting have both school and law enforcement authorities alarmed, but they say it's up to parents to take action regarding a series of organized fights in rural areas.
The first video — 13 seconds long — shows two teenage males slugging it out in the dirt. The longer video names two teenage females and depicts them viciously fighting as a crowd of mostly male teens stand around cheering them on. As the girls trade blows, boys are seen jumping up and down with glee.
No one has filed a complaint or report about the fights, said Bulloch County Sheriff's Chief Investigator Capt. Todd Hutchens. Until someone does, there isn't much law enforcement can do about the brawls — unless students are caught in the act, he said.
"There have been no official reports from victims," he said. Until there are, "we don't have any basis for an investigation."
Bulloch County School Superintendent Dr. Lewis Holloway, too, said there isn't much the school system can do at this point.
"It's not a legal matter for the school because it doesn't have an impact on the school," he said.
If the fights took place on school property or had a direct impact on school, officials could enact disciplinary measures. But, for now, both he and Hutchens said doing something about the organized fights remains in the hands of parents.
Holloway said similar videos surfaced last year. There were "five different sets of kids" fighting off campus, and once school officials identified the offenders, parents were notified and shown the videos, he said.
Holloway said the current videos would be sent to the high schools to determine who is involved and, like last year, the school system then will contact the parents.
Although nothing can be done as long as the fights are off campus, "We certainly do not condone it," Holloway said.
Students fighting on school property can be expelled or suspended. Holloway did say that in-school fights have declined significantly over the past few years.
A father of a high school teen called the Bulloch County Sheriff's Department recently and spoke with an investigator about his daughter being involved in a fight. The man never followed up with filing a report, Hutchens said.
Charges can be brought up against all parties involved in the affray if they were willing participants, he said. But a report must be filed.
Last week, Bulloch County Sheriff's deputies were informed by Brooklet Police Chief Mike Buchan of a possible upcoming fight. Bulloch Capt. Howard Nessmith responded to the tip but found no one in the area where the fight was supposed to have occurred, Hutchens said.
"There were kids at Statesboro High having differences between kids from Southeast Bulloch," Buchan said. "This is something we're keeping watch on as close as we can. It's very disturbing when you have kids acting this way."
The fight between the girls was able to be viewed online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blofrBZqXgk&feature=player_embedded. The video has since been removed from the site.
The two girls pummel each other, kicking, punching, and if one pulls away, others crowding around shove them back at each other. The fight takes place in a harrowed field. Some viewers stand in the back of a truck while others mill around, clearly enjoying the spectacle.
Comments on this video include reference to shocking violence, sex, racism and an apparent rivalry between the two schools.
The other video, which was able to be viewed online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaQnQzdlLbA, shows one teen sitting on top of another, pounding away at his face. Several others stand in a circle around the two fighters, and it appears the incident also took place in a field. The few comments on this video indicate a rivalry between the schools. The video has since been removed from the site.
Parents should notice bruises and other injuries possibly sustained from fighting, Hutchens said. And if anyone suspects their children of being involved, they should report the incident.
"My stand is, schools and parents should try to have preventive measures," he said. "This is a parental deal that needs to be addressed first."
If reports are filed, students can be arrested. "Fighting is always against the law," he said. But, "We're not going to pursue an investigation because of a video on YouTube. Parents need to file reports."
Students are also committing crimes if "they are trespassing on other people's property to have these organized fights," Buchan said. "This is not going to be tolerated."