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“Flash Fights:” Staged School Violence Results in Real Injuries

New form of "cyber-violence" goes beyond "cyber-bullying," official says

It’s a social media trend that many people say is escalating in violence: "flash fights," in which young people stage real fights for the sake of posting on social media sites.

NBC Bay Area’s Robert Handa spoke exclusively with one East Bay family in Califronia trying to cope with not only the physical and emotional damage inflicted on their child, but also the frustration of feeling they have no recourse to resolve it. In a “flash fight” video posted recently to social media, children can be heard talking about a fight that is about to happen. Then a 14-year-old boy is sucker punched. He fights back in the video. But his mother, Celia, said the sneak punch damaged her son’s left eye.

Celia said school officials at first called her son a willing participant. Ironically, it was only after the video was posted that she says the school took action.

“He doesn’t want to go back. That’s his main concern,” Celia said. “He doesn’t want to go back because he doesn’t feel safe.”

Celia says the school did get the post removed, but that the damage is done.

“Whoever had access to this video before it was removed from social media sites still could go ahead and circulate it,” she said.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez says “flash fights” concern many groups, including the mayor’s gang task force and the public health department, which has just launched a program to reach out to parents and children through social media.

“This is beyond cyber-bullying,” Chavez said. “This is an exploitation and it’s cyber-violence.”

Celia said she hopes children behind flash fights will listen.

“Why do you glorify this?" she said. "What do you get out of going and staging it and putting it out there just for the hell of gaining some popularity? It’s not worth it."

Celia said her family received an apology from the school, which we are not identifying to protect her son’s identity. Celia said she is grateful to the school for apologizing, but she still isn’t sure how the situation will be resolved since her son is still trying to recover physically and emotionally.

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