Social media 'fights' could warrant charges after complaint: Chatham-Kent police
Chatham-Kent Police Service headquarters in Chatham, Ont. on Tuesday, Sept. 29 2020. (Rich Garton/CTV Windsor)
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Chatham parents voicing concerns over social media videos had a small victory last week when several Instagram accounts showing youth fights were taken down.
But that victory appears to be short-lived as new accounts are cropping up in their place.
Now police are chiming in with a stark warning for everyone involved: If you’re caught on video assaulting someone, you could be charged — even if you’re under 18.
“Anybody over the age of 12 can be arrested and charged, so I would encourage them to refrain from participating in these activities and please do not post or share any of these videos,” says Const. Renee Cowell of the Chatham-Kent Police Service.
Cowell calls the trend “distributing and troubling,” adding the police are investigating the videos where someone has come forward with a complaint.
She says consensual fights are not against the law. Some of the videos posted to social media showcase high-fives and fist-bumps between participants.
“People can consent to a fight but what they can’t consent to is assault, bodily harm and that’s really where the line gets crossed,” says Cowell, who says that’s where informing police is key — because no complaint — means no potential punishment.
“Most of these videos appear to be consensual in nature however some were not,” Cowell says. “And as a parent, as a police officer, I would encourage those who have been a victim of bullying, harassment and assault, please come forward as this behaviour will not be tolerated in our community.”
Cowell notes It’s also not illegal to post the videos — as many are filmed in public spaces where there’s no expectation of privacy.
CTV’s public safety analyst Chris Lewis says the so-called “fight clubs” are happening across the province and country.
“That many fights just in Chatham-Kent tells me they’re doing it for the video and social media exposure,” Lewis says.
Police are appealing to anyone whose child was involved or witnessed one of these fights to come forward to police and file a complaint.
Cowell says on occasion, the incidents do end up warranting charges.