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Slightly Alarming: Middle School Students in Washington Start a Real-Life "Fight Club" Slightly Alarming: Middle School Students in Washington Start a Real-Life "Fight Club"

Slightly Alarming: Middle School Students in Washington Start a Real-Life "Fight Club"

by Liz Dwyer

March 5, 2011

The Social Network director David Fincher once described his 1999 film Fight Club as being about "a guy who does not have a world of possibilities in front of him, he has no possibilities, he literally cannot imagine a way to change his life." Maybe this description of despair, which afflicted Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in the movie, is what's wrong with a group of boys at Steward Middle School in Tacoma, Washington. Instead of attending an after school program, almost 25 boys have been participating in a real-life fight club. They've been meeting up in a school bathroom for months just to beat each other down. And they've been filming the fights on their cell phones.

The fight club only came to light last Friday night after one of the boys broke "the first rule of Fight Club" and talked about what was going on. His aunt asked him what he liked to do after school, so he showed her cell phone video footage of some of the fights. The aunt—who wants to remain anonymous—went to Seattle's Fox News Q13 and gave a reporter the footage. The station aired it on Sunday night, and the school responded by suspending nine sixth graders that they could positively identify.

Tacoma Public Schools representative Dan Voelpel said that just like in the film, the student fights were timed and had similar rules, like no hitting in the face. The few students who are talking to the media say the fighting was just for fun. One anonymous boy told Q13 that everyone in the club is friends with each other, and,

"if anyone was really getting hurt, all they had to do is say stop...and that's when it would end the fight. There was maybe like a small bloody lip but no one was really crying and stuff."

And, being in the fight club was appealing because

"if you are one of those kids that always gets made fun of and stuff…If you fight...If you win some…You'll earn more respect."

Crazily enough, now the student's parents are angry over the suspensions, and they want the school's principals and teachers punished instead—they say the school should have known about the fights. One father, who would only identify himself as "Morgan" said if the parents "would not have come and made mention of this, there still would have been a fight scheduled today, in the restroom of this school." Instead of suspending his son, the school should have let him handle it.

The school's solution for ending the fights? Voelpel says they'll beef up bathroom monitoring, and they're going to lock the restroom at the end of the regular school day. Unfortunately, neither that, nor the parent outrage over the suspensions, addresses why the kids were fighting in the first place.

Need proof that the fighting goes way beyond normal kid roughhousing? Watch the video below.

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Slightly Alarming: Middle School Students in Washington Start a Real-Life "Fight Club"