Teens posted fight video on Web

By Matt Rocheleau
Globe Correspondent / September 30, 2009

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More than 40 Framingham High School students turned out for a fistfight between two boys earlier this month that was planned using cellphones and text messages, then videotaped and posted on the Facebook social networking site, officials said.

Two 15-year-old sophomores were charged as juveniles with assault and battery in the incident, which took place Sept. 14 after classes were dismissed for the day.

It is unlikely the students who videotaped or watched the fight will face charges because technically they did not violate any laws, said Framingham police Lieutenant Paul Shastany.

Principal Michael Welch said at least two students used their cellphone cameras to capture video of the fight and posted the video on Facebook the next day. The school’s student resource officer spoke with those students.

“The whole video thing is a new wrinkle. We’re stuck trying to figure out what you can charge [the videographers] with, or discipline them with,’’ Welch said yesterday.

“This is the same thing [a schoolyard fight] that has happened for generations. The difference was this made it on the Internet,’’ he said.

The video has since been removed from Facebook.

“It’s disappointing that the students wouldn’t do something to alert the police,’’ said Shastany. “There’s a responsibility students have to each other. They have to intervene and notify police.’’

Administrators are also concerned that students were sending text messages to each other during the day and after school to alert classmates that a fight was planned.

“As usual, cellphones and text messages got the word out during the day far faster than any word of mouth could, and the two combatants willingly and equally participated,’’ according to Welch’s weekly newsletter, published a week after the fight.

The school does not prevent students from having cellphones, because school administrators say the devices have become an important means of communication between many students and their parents.

Students, however, are told to keep phones hidden and turned off during school.

Neither boy was seriously injured during the fight and their names are not being released because of their age, officials said.

Both boys were suspended from school for five days.

The reason the boys fought is not entirely clear, said Welch, but administrators believe it may have stemmed from a nonphysical altercation earlier in the school year involving a younger brother of one of the boys.

Shortly after the fight began, members of the school’s staff hurried to stop the altercation.