As students post school fight videos online, law enforcement uses them to prosecute

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The videos are endless. Student fights, posted to social media sites like Facebook and YouTube, continue to gain "likes" or followers, giving kids instant internet infamy.

Last week, students posted a video of a school bus fight in Trinity. Last year, the same kind of video made it online after a fight in Palm Harbor.

Just a few days ago, another popped up from Calvin A. Hunsinger School in Clearwater, in which a female student grabs Vanessa Chauvin's hair and throws her to the ground.  Her injuries landed her in the hospital.

When Vanessa saw it on Facebook, she says the nightmarish event flashed back.

"It's me, and I don't want people seeing me get beat up," she said. "I thought I was going to die because she was punching me so hard."

But the fight didn't end there. Now, Vanessa is receiving Tweets from students threatening her life.

"Still going to beat your 'blank'," her mother, LoriAnn, read. "When you come back to school, I'm going to hit you."

LoriAnn says her daughter's physical injuries were only the beginning. They continued with the emotional punches social media keeps throwing.

"It's a continuum of us being victimized everyday," LoriAnn said. "It's non-stop. Non-stop!"

Experts say the endless fame of posting a fight online, in some cases, incites the violence.

Attorney General Pam Bondi says her office takes cyber-bullying very seriously, but the internet is ultimately regulated by the federal government.

What students don't seem to realize, however, is that law enforcement is paying attention.

"It's only a matter of time before some major case, we're going to be able to solve through social media," explained TPD Spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

TPD is twisting the negative uses of social media for their positive benefit. Though kids might use it for bullying, detectives will use it for evidence, in some cases even posting video themselves to get tips on criminals.

"The more people sharing it, the more it's getting out there, the more likelihood there is for someone who might identify them," Davis said.

Friday's visit from a Pasco County School showed why.  Autumn Morrison tweeted about her visit.  TPD responded.  Now, they've got an ally in the high school senior.

"On Facebook, there's links all the time to crazy fights in high school, like every day," Morrison said.

Now that Morrison follows TPD on Twitter, she can alert them about crimes like the one that's almost ruined Vanessa's life. As death threats continue online, she's dropping out of school for very real danger.

"Vanessa will be attacked or maybe killed, that simple," LoriAnn said.

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