I don't like fighting. I never watch adults box or wrestle. I understand that some people value the skill of these 'sports', but they don't appeal to me. They always seem a bit too close to real, uncontrollable rage for comfort.The idea of children fighting feels worse. Children are soft, and sweet; growing and learning. They will experience more than enough pain, accrued accidentally, as they develop their skills to evaluate risk in the real world. Why would any adult encourage them to inflict pain on each other deliberately? But some adults do like fighting as sport. Boxing, wrestling, martial arts etc. are respected (and in some cases highly remunerated) professions for those who excel. If you're going to aspire to become a professional fighter one day, I suppose you have to start young. And adults who enjoy your sport may well watch and enjoy your accomplishments. Is competitive boxing, at eight years old, or mixed martial arts at the same age very different from gymnastics, say, or ballet, which some experts worry about because of the pressures they appear to put on developing bodies? What is the difference (in terms of physical and emotional damage) between an eight year old taking a smack in the face in the ring, or a child of the same age having a nasty fall from their horse at the local Gymkhana, both events taking place before a cheering crowd? I'm not into ponies, or ballet, or gymnastics either so I have no benchmark against which to assess the reasonableness of parents allowing or expecting their children to participate or compete in these events. I just know that it's not what I like; it's not what I'd let my children do. But no one – yet – has let me run the country according to my whims, beliefs and prejudices. Instead, we have child performance laws to help us understand and manage what children should or shouldn't be allowed to do. If you're feeling nerdy, here's that legislation: The Children & Young Persons Act 1963 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1963/37 and the Children (Performances) Regulations 1968 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1968/1728/made "Child performance" includes paid / professional sporting activity. If the children in the "cage fight" (the nature of the bout is disputed, and I don't know enough about martial arts to judge) were being paid, or someone was receiving payment on account of their participation (I understand at the audience had paid to watch) they had to be licensed to be involved. If the "performance" is taking place in a licensed premises or registered club (which I understand it was) a licence was required. If they weren't licensed, that was a breach of the law, and since the licensing requirement is in place to safeguard children's wellbeing, that breach would be a safeguarding issue. Even if the children weren't being paid or there was no payment being made on account of their involvement, there are still circumstances in which a licence would be required: for example, if they appear in a "performance" more than five times in a six month period. In making licensing decisions a local authority has to be satisfied that the activity is safe for the child and that it takes place in a venue that the local authority has approved. The local authority needs to know if the performance will be filmed for broadcast (which raises some interesting questions about YouTube as a broadcast medium). When applying for a licence to cover sporting activity, parents have to make a declaration that the child is medically fit to participate. Records have to be kept of any injuries the child sustains while participating in the "performance". I feel uncomfortable about judging other parents' decisions about their children, based on some fairly uninformed prejudices I have about fighting. But I feel professionally confident to say that the activity the children were involved in should have been considered by the local authority in the light of child performance regulations before it took place. If the local authority had issued a licence or confirmed that one was not required in these circumstances, then this is just another media-fuelled (and probably class-based) moral panic. If this sporting event and others like it hasn't yet been evaluated on safeguarding grounds, it should be.