Caught on tape: Toddlers forced to fight

November 17, 2008 1:09:16 PM PST
A Fort Bragg soldier is in hot water for videotaping toddlers fighting and making it available to millions by posting it on YouTube. The video, shot just weeks ago, is now at the center of a bitter custody fight.

"It's horrifying," says Alicia Scheideger. Her son is the boy crying on tape.

"They're filming it and they're laughing about it and thinking it's no big deal," she says. "It's ridiculous."

In the video you can see two year olds in a house on Fort Bragg hitting, slapping and punching each other for nearly two minutes. One little boy repeatedly cries and covers up, obviously wanting the beating to stop.

"I was horrified, I thought it was a baby cockfight," says Scheideger. "Just like somebody put two animals up to fight each other, they're not animals, they're humans," she continues.

Scheideger says she's cried too since seeing the video.

"I mean, I'm their mom and I've been told by a friend that if I didn't know the kids or it wasn't my kids I'd think it was funny and I don't, I think it's horrible," says Scheideger.

When she found out about the video, she confronted her ex-husband, who has custody of the children at his house on post.

"My ex-husband told me that they had been fighting for two Days and they finally just decided to let them have at it and just not stop them," says Scheideger, continuing, "they actually encouraged the fight and tell them to keep going."

Scheideger says her older son tried to stop the fight but in the video you can see that he's quickly picked up and moved out of the way.

"As a parent you stop it, you don't let it continue, and you especially don't let your kid get hurt," says Scheideger.

Scheideger was so upset that she called child protective services and the military police.

We called the army too. They knew about the video and initially told us they'd give us an interview and a statement from the boy's father, a special operations soldier at Fort Bragg, after the soldier's custody hearing.

But after that hearing, earlier this week, the army cancelled the interview and instead gave us this statement:

"This incident is being investigated by child protective services, Cumberland County and Fort Bragg. The behavior displayed by the parents in the video is neither condoned nor indicative of Soldiers in this command or the Army. The command takes very seriously the health and welfare of all service members and their Families. This command will take the appropriate actions as required and will continue to cooperate with civilian agencies."

The army also confirmed the soldier enrolled in parenting classes. But that's not enough for Alicia.

"I don't think that the boys should be somewhere where they're taught that it's ok to fight like that. I don't think it's ok for them to be around someone who thinks that this is a funny issue, it's not," says Scheideger.

Scheideger tells us her ex-husband did lose custody of the kids but only temporarily. She says she'll keep fighting to get them back. Also, the video has been taken down from YouTube.

If you have a tip that you'd like Eyewitness News to investigate send us an email at investigates@abc11mail.com.

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