St. Louis-area district investigates fight videos

SUNSET HILLS, Mo. (AP) — Officials at a suburban St. Louis school district are investigating after videos of what appeared to be organized fights were posted on social media websites.

The Lindbergh School District is looking into the videos posted on YouTube and Facebook under the name “Lindbergh Fights.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/Q0f64s ) reports that the videos showed pairs of boys exchanging punches in a parking lot or a field, sometimes with a crowd of other teens watching.

Lindbergh officials identified several of the students who fought and some who watched, got YouTube to remove the videos and had the Facebook page shut down. Principals met with students involved and their parents. It hasn’t been decided if the students will face discipline. They do not believe the fights are related to gang activity or bullying.

St. Louis County police, who have an officer assigned to Lindbergh High School, are looking into the videos.

“Unless it’s being organized at school — and we don’t have any evidence of that now — it’s not a school discipline issue,” Lindbergh spokeswoman Beth Johnston said. “It’s a dangerous activity, and it’s not something we want to encourage at all. (Principals) are counseling them on why this is not appropriate.”

Lindbergh administrators learned of the videos from an anonymous email sent to school board members and the media. The email included links to six YouTube videos and the Facebook page.

The footage showed teenagers gathered in a circle yelling and screaming, many with cellphone cameras scrambling to capture the fights. In one instance, one fighter head-butted another.

School officials say the high school in southwest St. Louis County is safe, with few discipline problems. Last year, the district reported three incidents involving violence to the state education department.

Lindbergh’s handbook warns that the district can discipline students for conduct outside of school that is “prejudicial to good order and discipline in the schools or tends to impair the morale or good conduct of the pupils.”

Though social media sites have their own policies prohibiting content with graphic or gratuitous violence, fight videos are often posted. Kevin Quinn, president of the National Association of School Resource Officers, said there is little schools can do if the violence happens off-campus.

“If it’s in somebody’s backyard, and everybody’s willing, it’s really hard to find anything to hold these kids accountable,” Quinn said.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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