'Fight nights' making comeback among local teens

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Authorities are warning parents about a dangerous, illegal trend among Utah teens.

Local high school students call them 'fight nights,' and they may be more common than you think.

"It could be girls fighting, boys fighting, high school kids, junior high school kids..." explained Kimberly Santiago, Vice Chair of the Provo City Council.

Fight nights are certainly not new, but Santiago says they are making a blatant comeback.

"Usually, they're at homes of kids that are sponsoring them, and often parents are there,” she explained.

Basically, teens are using violence as a form of entertainment. Santiago says she recently realized how common these dangerous gatherings are so decided to sponsor a city resolution, encouraging parents to take a stand.

"I know of two kids with concussions, and two with broken bones...” Santiago told Good 4 Utah's Ali Monsen. “It's worse if they don't fight. It's worse with the shaming and the ridiculing on social media afterwards,” she explained.

Groups range in size but often include hundreds. Typically, two at a time take turns fist-fighting for thirty-second intervals until one of them drops out. The winner then challenges someone else in the group.

"They'll either throw the gloves at a kid they want to fight or shove them in the chest, or however they want to call them out..." Santiago explained.

Santiago says over the past seven years,16 large fight clubs have broken up across the state, but the problem remains unresolved in local high schools. She says the fighting happens during school lunch breaks and even on weekends in homes or random buildings. The knock-outs usually end up on social media, which Santiago says causes emotional trauma and in one fairly recent case, suicide.

"He won a fight, and then he lost a fight and somehow, the social media—afterwards—was really negative and kind of the shaming and ridiculing that goes on, and he ended up taking his own life,” Santiago recalled.

Fight nights (and anything related) are illegal in Utah—a Class A misdemeanor. Doctors, school officials, and community members continue spreading awareness, but they say ultimately, parents are the ones who have to help their teenagers steer clear from fighting.

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