A video that apparently shows two toddlers fighting as an adult eggs them on has sparked an investigation that may cost a father custody of his child.
The video, which went viral on the Internet before being pulled, has left Alicia Scheideger, the mother of one of the children, devastated.
"I was horrified. It's a baby cockfight — just like somebody put two animals up to fight each other," Scheideger said.
What the Video Shows
Scheideger's ex-husband, a Fort Bragg special operations soldier who had custody of the boy, reportedly filmed the altercation between his son and an unidentified, unrelated boy. It's believed to be his voice on the video encouraging the children to continue fighting.
"Go hit him back. I don't care," a voice is heard on the tape, which was filmed several weeks ago.
The tape shows one boy slapping and punching another who is crying hysterically and trying to cover himself up. During the altercation, one boy tries to crawl away but the other boy gets on top of him and continues hitting.
At one point an older boy, reportedly a brother of one of the children, apparently tries to intervene and break up the altercation, but he's picked up and removed from the situation as the two toddlers continue to battle. Two minutes later, the fight ends.
"He's done. No more. It's bleeding," a man said on the tape.
When Scheideger learned of the video, she contacted child protective services and military police. Both are now investigating.
Scheideger say her son was removed from her ex-husband's home at Fort Bragg and was placed with a relative.
"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," Scheideger told ABC News' Raleigh-Durham, N.C. affiliate WTVD-TV. "They actually encouraged the fight and tell them to keep going."
The Army released a statement to WTVD-TV about the video.
"The behavior displayed by the parents in the video is neither condoned nor indicative of soldiers in this command or the Army," the statement read. "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."
Scheideger said she cried when she saw the footage.
"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," she said. "As a parent you stop it, you don't let it continue and you especially don't let your kid get hurt."
One child psychologist agreed.
"It's certainly not appropriate," said Dr. Richard Gallagher. "Kids turn to their parents to protect them."
Gallagher added that the adult's apparent encouragement wasn't beneficial.
"That's just a dad teaching kids to be bullies. Even with adults we have rules about boxing. They have to be the same size and weight," he said.
Unfortunately, Gallagher said, this is not the first time video of children fighting has ended up on the Internet.
"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," Scheideger said.
ABC News' Raleigh-Durham affiliate WTVD contributed to this story.