Watch CBSN Live

Teen Girl-on-Girl Fighting Goes Online

If you thought only men engage in fist fights, you'd be wrong.

CBS News correspondent Whit Johnson reported there aren't any statistics yet, but experts say there's a growing problem with teenage girls letting disputes with one another turn violent.

Increasingly, Johnson reported, girl fights are being recorded and posted on the Internet, which can make the problem even worse.

A video popped up on YouTube more than a week ago that showed two teenage girls in a violent fist fight -- with two adults allegedly watching -- and another minor videotaping the entire thing. The fight took place in Baton Rouge, La.

Days later, in Lowell, Mass., local authorities discovered similar videos online.

Gerry Leone, the district attorney of Middlesex, Mass., told CBS News, "We found three different videos posted to YouTube, and it was female-on-female violence, where young females were fighting in a very violent way, and being exhorted to do so by friends who were both boys and girls."

Leone says local educators report about 80 percent of school fights are now girl against girl, a trend he says is fueled, in part, by the Internet.

Leone said, "They see friends getting a lot of attention from the posting of these violent attacks, and being young and impressionable kids, they figure that's one way of getting attention themselves."

Experts say the fights can also lead to cyberbullying, as tech-savvy teens look for more ways to torment one another. The National Education Association (NEA) hopes to generate awareness.

Jerry Newberry, executive director of the NEA Health Information Network, said, "The problem with anything on the Internet is that it's not a one-time incident. It doesn't happen in the hallway, it gets recorded over and over and over."

In Baton Rouge, two adults who watched the fight without stopping it have been charged with felony counts of cruelty to a juvenile. In Lowell, a middle school girl who was the alleged aggressor in one of the fights, has been arrested.

Johnson pointed out that educators and police say while images of teens fighting on the Internet are becoming more common, effective solutions are just as difficult to find.

Psychologist Jennifer Hartstein said on "The Early Show" the girls are catching up to the boys.

"Boys always fought physically. Girls fought with social aggression, with slander and making rumors and all that stuff, and now it's going this extra step. And girls are mean and they fight dirty. It's hard to watch."

Hartstein said girls -- like the rest of society -- are becoming more aggressive because people are getting numb to violence.

"There is shock value for those of us as adults, going, 'Wow.' But kids think there's something kind of cool about it," Hartstein said. "And now the Internet can bring them notoriety or some sort of fame, so it's making it harder to say, 'This is a bad thing.'"

"Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez remarked that she would like to know who is watching these videos, adding that perverts and pedophiles could be seeing your child fighting.

"We don't know who's watching it. Is it only teenagers, is it adults?" Hartstein said. "Who is getting the joy and excitement out of the shock value?"

Hartstein said parents need to teach respect.

"Somewhere our niceness gene has gotten lost. We need to stop and take a step back and really talk about how do you protect yourself when there's a conflict, how do you interact with people in an appropriate polite way, and that may help us go back to talking things through, instead of relying on violence to fix the problem," she said.

Rodriguez added that it's also important to hold people accountable.

Hartstein agreed, saying, "If adults are standing by and watching, we have even more problems to think about because who's intervening? Who's in charge?"

"Parents need to set the limits," she continued. "They need to be in charge."

As for schools, Hartstein said they're doing more, such as behavioral intervention at an early age.

"We need to start this early - in kindergarten, first grade," she said.

When asked by Rodriguez about when that's being lost in education, Hartstein said it happens, but she doesn't know how much time is devoted to it in schools, particularly with budget cuts that could curtail this type of intervention.

View CBS News In