by Cindy Hsu
NEW YORK (CBS) ―
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Helmet boxing has become very popular among teens, but parents need to be more aware of their children's involvement in the sport. CBS
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A dangerous new "sport" that's become the latest knockout for children is also taking the Internet video community by storm. It's called "helmet boxing" and many health officials are warning that parents should familiarize themselves with the rules.
For A.J. Pacheco, with summer vacation just beginning, it's now time to look forward to friends, fun, and plenty of helmet boxing. "I first heard about helmet boxing from a friend at school who was on the hockey team," Pacheco told CBS 2.
Helmet boxing is an underground sport that's just beginning to surface, especially on Internet video sites such as YouTube. To play, each individual dons a helmet with a face mask, along with a pair of gloves, and then each hits each other in the head until someone passes out, a helmet gets knocked off, or someone simply throws in the towel.
"We only do head shots, only around the helmet. No punching behind anyone, no punching below the helmet," Pacheco said.
A quick search on YouTube pulls up hundreds of amateur videos, proving the game is now becoming a popular garage sport with kids as young as 13. But doctors are warning that even though they are wearing helmets, they are still at risk for bodily harm.
"I think there is a false sense of security if you're using gloves and a helmet that you're protected and that nothing is going to happen," said Dr. Andrew Gregory of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Pacheco learned firsthand just how dangerous helmet boxing can be. He landed in the emergency room needing 10 stitches across his chin. Dr. Fred Mueller, who studies sports injuries at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, says helmet boxing could also result in concussion.
"My concern would be if they get injured while they're helmet boxing and don't realize they have a slight concussion and go out on the field the next day and get another blow," Mueller said.
Boxers like Pacheco insist the matches are strictly "horseplay," but both Mueller and Gregory agree that parents and coaches alike should question their children about the sport. "If parents know that this is going on, ask their sons or daughters, or usually sons I would guess, have they ever participated in this type of activity?" Mueller said.
"If an injury does happen, then the kid is more likely to come and tell their parent and not try to hide it," Gregory added.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics has no "official stance" on helmet boxing, Gregory said they do consider it to be on the "same playing field as regular boxing," which has been deemed unsafe for "young children with developing brains."
Still, Pacheco's parents are allowing their son to continue fighting after watching a few matches, though they do admit they're not 100 percent comfortable with it. "As long as everyone has their chin straps on safe and everything's secure, they don't seem to mind," Pacheco said.