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NY Times - Teenagers Misbehaving, for All Online to Watch

Adam Schleichkorn Tuesday, February 13, 2007 , ,
This article came out in the New York Times Today! The picture had a caption of "A youth hurling himself into a fence in a YouTube clip by Adam Schleichkorn." They also gave a direct link to my video, and another to my youtube page in the online version of the article...

DEER PARK, N.Y., Feb. 8 — Dozens of teenage boys
hovered outside Deer Park High School Thursday
afternoon, some holding schoolbooks, some holding
skateboards and some holding camera-equipped
cellphones to record the proceedings.

“There’s going to be a fight,” said one boy with
shaggy hair over his eyes. “Anything funny or crazy
that people would want to see and talk about, we tape
it and post it online.”

School officials shooed the boys away, and at a
Starbucks nearby, 17-year-old Gary Buley-Neumar
explained: “Kids beat up other kids and tape it, just
so other kids will see it and laugh. Or they just post
stupid things they did online so other kids will look
at their Web page.”

The police are watching as well. On Feb. 2, Deer Park
officers announced that five teenagers had been
arrested for fence-plowing — a recent fad that
involves youths taking a running start and hurling
themselves into a fence, sending slats flying. The
authorities said the teenagers may have been imitating
a popular YouTube video posted last year that received
three and a half stars and had nearly 70,000 viewers.

Last month, after viewing a video of the beating of a
13-year-old girl that was broadcast on Web sites
including MySpace, Photobucket and YouTube, the
authorities arrested three freshman girls from nearby
North Babylon High School.

Such sites are flooded with teenage-fight videos, and
there are many sites, like, devoted
solely to similar acts. In response to such
cyberbullying, Steve Levy, the Suffolk County
executive, recently asked school districts to
designate a staff Internet monitor to watch for
Web-posted misbehavior among students.

Schoolyard scraps, spectacular skateboard spills,
puppy-love quarrels, goofy antics like placing a slice
of American cheese over the face of a snoring buddy,
and bruising stunts like hurling one’s body through a
neighbor’s wooden fence — these and other staples of
suburban teenage life have taken on a new dimension as
online cinéma vérité. Instead of being whispered about
among friends and then fading away, such rites of
ridiculousness are now routinely captured on video and
posted on the Internet for worldwide perusal, and

“Teens have been doing inappropriate things for a long
time, but now they think they can become celebrities
by doing it,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of
developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Schneider
Children’s Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical

“In the past, you’d brag to your friends in the locker
room about doing something stupid or crazy or daring,”
Dr. Adesman said. “Now the Internet provides
additional motivation. But these things can just as
easily lead to criminal prosecution as broad

In the classroom, in the cafeteria, in their bedrooms
or on the street, teenagers are quick on the draw with
the camera phone. They flip, click and post, then hope
Web users will watch them.

Most suburban teenagers, it seems, can rattle off a
litany of the latest teens-gone-wild offerings as
though they were the local multiplex listings: boys
holding cellphones under the lunch table to photograph
up girls’ skirts; an innocent kiss at a party posted
out of context on an ex-boyfriend’s Web site; someone
bursting in on friends who are in the bathroom or
sleeping, drinking or smoking; students goading
teachers into tantrums; assaulting homeless people.

“Teens always do crazy stuff, but it’s just that much
more intense and fun when you can post it,” said
Nathaniel Visneaskous, 18, of Deer Park. “When you
live in a boring town, what else is there to do?”

Parry Aftab, a New Jersey lawyer whose Web site,, offers parents help on issues like
cyberbullying, noted that “you have girls at slumber
parties taking pictures of each other in their bras
and panties, and somehow the shots wind up on a porn

“Anytime a teen is around friends now, anything they
do can be filmed and put online,” Ms. Aftab said.
“They say, ‘I can become a movie star or at least make
it onto “The Montel Williams Show.” ’ I tell them: ‘Be
careful, because what you do now is forever. When
you’re applying to college or an internship or that
dream job at MTV, people are going to look at what’s
been posted of you online.’ ”

YouTube says it reviews videos posted on its site and
removes those that violate guidelines. “If your video
shows someone getting hurt, attacked or humiliated,
don’t post,” the Web site warns.

Mr. Levy, the Suffolk County executive, said the
authorities’ Internet focus has expanded from stopping
sexual predators to making “sure the child is not
being humiliated by his or her peers on online video.”

“Some kids want their 15 minutes of fame by holding
other kids up to ridicule,” he said. “A premeditated
attack is assault, but how about the friend who plots
with the perpetrators to film it? When does that
become a crime?”

Chris Marotta, a high school junior from Huntington
Station, not far from here, said that with so many
camera phones and digital cameras around, “at any
given time, someone’s taping you.”

“Kids put their fights online for street cred,” he
noted. “If it’s a bad fight and their face is in the
video, they can get arrested.”

Nancy E. Willard, author of the 2006 book
“Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats,” said that adults
“might not consider it a great idea to post online a
video of yourself committing a crime for all to see,
but a lot of teens have this idea that life is a game
and it’s all just entertainment.”

“In doing this, they’re jostling for social position
and status, or establishing themselves in a certain
social group, or just attracting attention,” she said.
“To them, this is defining who they are and what
people think of them. The idea that ‘people know my
name’ is an affirmation of who they are.”

Indeed, Adam Schleichkorn, 25, of Huntington, has been
proclaiming himself the godfather of fence-plowing,
since his seminal 3 ½-star clip, popularized on
YouTube, was cited by the news media in reporting the
Deer Park fence-plowing arrests. Mr. Schleichkorn,
admittedly a bit old for teenage tricks, said he never
meant to promote vandalism; the video, he said, shows
his cousin hurling himself through a segment of fence
that relatives owned and that needed to be torn down

No matter. The fence-plowing frenzy, Mr. Schleichkorn
said, has driven tens of thousands of visitors to his
YouTube page, where his more serious projects — he is
a producer of films, videos and advertisements — can
also be found.

“A week ago, no one knew who I was — now my name has
been on every news and talk show,” Mr. Schleichkorn
said. “I don’t care that it’s for something stupid. I
was on Fox News cracking jokes. Maury Povich called me

“So I’m known as the fence-plowing kid,” he added. “At
least I’m known.”

Click here for the actual article

The last line is so incredibly mis-quoted, but the whole thing is still hilarious.
Copyright 2010