By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
All fighting in public is a crime
Placeholder Image
There is nothing new about youths fighting. Most boys and many girls go through various stages where fighting constitutes a "rite of passage" (so to speak) and it is a means to safeguard oneself from bullying or from being considered a weakling, coward, etc. There are many other reasons kids fight; one of the main ones is to establish superiority over others, or, in some cases, they fight to overcome feelings of inadequacy that may be linked to their self-image or if they do poorly in school. When fighting takes place in the home, especially from abusive parents, it may be the primary way a young person knows to express anger and frustration. Regardless of the reasons, that people fight for power, protection, status and even entertainment goes back to the earliest recorded history of mankind. It does seem to be part of the survival instinct, manifesting in many forms and for an endless number of reasons.

Our society has generated yet another reason for fighting, which is based on the propensity for young people to emulate what they see on movies and on TV. About a decade ago, the movie "Fight Club" starring Brad Pitt was released. Since that time, various forms of "collegial" fighting have steadily grown in popularity among young people. These fights take place in parks, barns, warehouses, abandoned buildings and other places that are not likely to generate complaints from neighbors or draw the attention of police.

I was prompted to write about this subject because so few adults, parents especially, are aware of what is going on. But all anyone has to do, for example, is to Google "Ceres Skate Park fights" and quite a few video links will pop up showing all-out fights that have taken place there in the recent past. Most of the fights filmed are between consenting parties who fight for the sport, where there is a sense of fairness and with rules applied. A "referee" is also usually present to ensure that the rules, whatever they might be, are adhered to. In some instances the fighters use gloves, while others fight "no-holds-barred" in a determined, if not vicious manner. And to be sure, these fights are not limited to males. Females also fight with equal rigor and determination, while giving and taking the same kinds of beatings as their male counterparts.

There are also non-sporting fights where kids are attacked and bullied and, in some instances, severely beaten. Weeks ago, a father and son were simply eating dinner at Smyrna Park, when a group of girls and guys attacked them and beat the father so severely that he had to be treated by paramedics. There have been similar attacks during the last few years, but victims often are afraid to report these crimes for fear of future attacks and retaliation. Witnesses are loath to talk for similar reasons and want to avoid being labeled a rat, snitch or similar names. We are aware that there are far more instances of these fights than end up being reported to the police.

Fighting in public is a crime, regardless of whether between consenting parties or where there are unwilling victims who have been unlawfully attacked. Even those who simply stay around to watch for fun can be considered as "aiding or abetting" the crime. And for certain, the police will arrest and seek prosecution of all participants, including "referees," those cheering on the fighters, the video makers and even those who are doing nothing more than watching. We need our parks to be safe, as violence begets more violence and acts as a magnet for yet more unwanted and illegal behavior at these public places.

It is not the intention of law enforcement to coddle young people or to try to intrude into those parts of their lives that is best left to the growing-up process and parents. But fighting in public often has unintended consequences, with the potential for knives, firearms and other weapons surfacing when least expected. There is also the potential for criminal gang involvement.

Everyone stands to lose from these activities with the possibility of participants suffering serious injuries. There is the threat of arrest and ending up with a criminal history, and having been a fight participant may well haunt the participants as they seek employment in the future. Ceres police will do what is necessary to keep the problem from continuing to affect the skate park, all parks and at other locations where the public peace is threatened. We encourage observers of these fights to promptly notify the police by dialing 9-1-1.