Understanding Violence

On my last trip home in 2012, I noticed people were worried about the increased violence in public, especially among young men. The one story which was in the media a lot was about an unprovoked punch which caused the death of an 18-year-old man. The latest victim is another 18-year-old who was punched on New Year’s Eve. He also sadly passed away after spending weeks in a coma.

A punch is to hit someone with a closed fist.

Both men were victims of a ‘king hit.’ This term means a punch which not only knocks the person unconscious but also causes serious physical injuries, even death. The parents of the most recent victim want the term to be changed to ‘coward’s punch.’ They think it would better describe the unprovoked nature of the attack and take away any prestige the word has among young men.

The Word spoke with Dr Emmeline Taylor, a senior lecturer in criminology at the Australian National University. Our first question was how much the violence reported shows an increase in overall violence.

“Violent crime is decreasing in Australia. Media fuelled anxiety and panic about the likelihood of victimisation can lead to knee-jerk responses by government policymakers which might be inappropriate or ineffective,” Dr Taylor said from Canberra. But she did recognize the media attention given to these recent attacks.

“It is a heinous crime, an unprovoked assault. It taps into the public psyche of what people are afraid of,” she said. She also sees a problem with the term ‘king hit’.

To tap into something is to understand and express something.

“To some men [the act] seems quite glorified,” she said. It may be a sign of “ultimate masculinity” to punch another man to the ground. So the problem may be more with the culture than just the word.

Dr Taylor believes that the basic culture in Australia must change to see any real progress. The two main areas of concern are the idea of masculinity, especially as it glorifies violence, and the acceptance of binge drinking.

Fortunately a number of programs have been tried which are working. In Newcastle, a city north of Sydney, staged licensing has been tried to some effect. Under this scheme places that serve alcohol close at different times. This means large numbers of drunk people are not on the street at once.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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The last time I was home in Australia, I noticed more people were worried about violence in public, especially violence among young men. The story which was in the media a lot was about an unprovoked punch which caused the death of an 18-year-old man. The latest victim is another 18-year-old who was punched on New Year’s Eve. Tragically he passed away after weeks in a coma.

A punch is to hit someone with a closed fist.

Both men were victims of a ‘king hit.’ This term means a punch which not only knocks the person unconscious but also causes serious physical injuries, even death. The parents of the most recent victim want the word to be changed to ‘coward’s punch.’ They think it would better describe the unprovoked nature of the attack and take away any importance of the word.

The Word spoke with Dr Emmeline Taylor, a senior lecturer in criminology at the Australian National University. Our first question was how much the violence talked about means an increase in all violence.

“Violent crime is decreasing in Australia. Media fuelled anxiety and panic about the likelihood of victimisation can lead to knee jerk responses by government policy makers which might be inappropriate or ineffective,” Dr Taylor said from Canberra. But she did see why the media paid attention to these recent attacks.

“It is a heinous crime, an unprovoked assault. It taps into the public psyche of what people are afraid of,” she said. She also sees a problem with the term ‘king hit’.

To tap into something is to understand and express something.

“To some men [the act] seems quite glorified,” she said. The problem may be more with the culture than just the word.

Dr Taylor believes that the basic culture in Australia must change to see any real progress. The two main areas of concern are the idea of masculinity and the acceptance of binge drinking.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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On my last trip home in 2012, I couldn’t ignore the anxiety about increased violence in public, especially violence among young men. The one story which understandably dominated the news was an unprovoked punch which resulted in the death of an 18-year-old man, who had been having a night out with friends. The latest victim is another 18-year-old who was punched on New Year’s Eve. He remains in a coma.

A punch is to hit someone with a closed fist.

Both men were victims of a ‘king hit’- a punch which not only floors

its victim but causes serious physical injuries, even death. The parents of the most recent victim have been lobbying for the term to be called a ‘coward’s punch’ to better describe the sudden unprovoked nature of the attack, and to strip the term of any cachet among young men.

To strip is to remove something.

The Word spoke with Dr Emmeline Taylor, a senior lecturer in criminology at the Australian National University. Our first question was how much the violence reported represents an increase in overall violence.

“Violent crime is decreasing in Australia. Media fuelled anxiety and panic about the likelihood of victimisation can lead to knee jerk responses by government policymakers which might be inappropriate or ineffective,” Dr Taylor said from Canberra. She pointed to Australian Bureau of Statistics data which shows a decrease in assault. However, any official figures come with the caveat that they only represent what people report. Assaults which do not result in the terrible injuries or fatalities focused on in the media may go unreported.

Having said that, Dr Taylor acknowledged the media attention given to these recent attacks.

“It is a heinous crime, an unprovoked assault. It taps into the public psyche of what people are afraid of,” she said. At the same time, she sees a problem, as many others do, with the term ‘king hit’.

“To some men [the act] seems quite glorified,” she said. It may be a sign of “ultimate masculinity” to punch another man to the ground. Consequently the problem may lie more with the culture than just the word.

“It will be a long time before it sinks into the public psyche,” she said referring to the current trend of using the term ‘coward’s punch’. She believes that the fundamental culture in Australia must change to see any real progress. The two main areas of concern are the notion of masculinity, especially as it glorifies violence, and the acceptance of binge drinking.

If something is part and parcel of an experience, it is a necessary part of that experience which cannot be avoided.

“If a fight ensues it is part and parcel of a night out,” Dr Taylor said, reflecting on the attitudes of some young men.

Fortunately a number of programs have been tried which are bearing fruit. In Newcastle, a city north of Sydney, staged licensing has been tried to some effect. Under this scheme licensed premises shut at different times, so that large numbers of drunk people are not on the street at once. New South Wales is looking at adopting a similar policy statewide.

Other initiatives include having more public transport, so people can get home sooner, and taxi marshals to ensure order while people wait. A number of fights break out when people accuse others of jumping the queue. The UK also saw a very novel approach to curbing violence. People distributed lollipops and played children’s music. The sweets kept people quiet and the music discouraged them from loitering.

“Any solution needs to look at the situation in NSW. It needs to be context specific,” Dr Taylor said.

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

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