Gardaí have received a formal complaint about videos of “fight clubs” involving children, believed to be as a young as twelve, which were shared on the Snapchat social media platform.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Cathal Crowe, based in Parteen, in South East Clare, said the videos were filmed in Limerick city, showing teenagers and even younger children “pummeling” each other in organised fights.
He said the videos also showed unsuspecting victims being targeted.
“I got phone calls Friday and Saturday from a few parents in my own locality to say that their sons were on this Snapchat group. One parent did admit her son had been beaten up,” Cllr Crowe explained.
“Every day more fight videos are uploaded,” he said.
Cllr Crowe said he reported the Snapchat group to gardaí on Sunday night after having viewed the “disgusting” videos shared among members of the group.
“Some of the videos are one-on-one (fights), and they involve a group of children and bystanders in a huddle cheering them on and goading (those involved) to “kick” and “hit” each other.
“There is no blurred faces and the people are identifiable in all the videos.”
“Other videos are far more sinister; They’re basically random attack videos.”
One of the random victims is a “teenager I know personally."
“He was walking along a footpath in Limerick city, and out comes a guy who starts pummeling him with punches,”Cllr Crowe said.
“Probably the worst (video)” he saw involved a child “probably no more than 14 years of age” who is attacked by another youth. The attacker “starts punching his head and kneeing him into the head and jumping on him”.
“From what I’ve seen, the video content stays live for 24 hours and it gets replaced by other content, which is going to make the work for the gardaí very difficult,” Cllr Crowe said.
A number of Limerick landmarks, and local school uniforms, are clearly visible in the videos, he added.
“I’m a school teacher and a parent and I found it very upsetting. I saw everything from kids as young as 12 or 13 fighting.”
“I saw unprovoked attacks and I saw an awful video of a girl sitting quietly on a bus, what I presume was a school bus, and another girl came several feet from behind and started to pull her hair and slap her.”
Unsuspecting victims are seen “happily” going about their business “and the next thing they’re having their heads punched of them”, he added.
“I know a few years ago there was a phenomenon called ‘Happy Slappy’, but this is a lot worse; This is full on pummeling.”
He said those involved were also engaged in distributing “content of other fights from around the world” via the social media group.
“It’s very worrying and disturbing, and all we can do is ensure that this is shut down and to create awareness among parents.”
Highlighting the filming and sharing on social media, of the aftermath of a fatal crash along the M50 last week, Cllr Crowe added his voice to others who have called for tough penalties to be introduced for those who share sensitive material online.
Gardaí have been contacted for comment.