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Getting Behind The Punch: "The Knock Out Game"

1841 words - 8 pages

Outside, a middle aged man walks outside from the back entrance after a long day at work. As he moves through the back alley, a swift cracking noise echoes the area. He drops on the ground, instantly going into a state of unconsciousness as cackling and footsteps run away from him. This horrible scenario has been occurring for the past few years in various urban areas to people who seem “vulnerable.” This “knock out game” has various methods of operation but for the most part, “…it typically involves either one forceful punch to the head or a more generalized assault to a random individual (typically standing or walking alone) without any warning or provocation, and without any ulterior motive such as theft or retaliation” (Zonfrillo, Arbogast, & Fein, 2014, p. 513). This trend tends to have a similar demographic of perpetrators (teenage males), yet it does not necessarily mean that the motivation to perpetrate these random assaults are all the same. These recent attacks are a social problem because they do affect a person’s well being and safety in society. Three different case studies will be examined, along with different criminological theories and finally policies that could be applied for punishment and prevention crime control measures.
As mentioned earlier, most cases are not economically motivated which rules out conflict theory since that ideology is associated with perpetrators who believe in class conflict, and using any means to obtain monetary or social power within a divided society. On side note, the trend and cases discussed, Social Learning theory appears to be a universal motivation for incidents which occurred within the context of group settings due to the motivation and skills given by peers (or social media) to commit the crime. Other theories could be applied depending on the case such as: Biosocial Arousal, Classical, and Personality.
One of the most infamous cases of the “knock out game” happened in October 2011, to a 50 year old high school teacher, James Addlespurger. His case was actually the basis for the hypothetical scenario introduced in the beginning of this paper. He was punched by a teenager in the face, and collapsed an alley. The footage of that attack would be used by various media outlets as a link example for the “knock out game” occurrence (Fuoco/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2013). In an interview with Post-Gazette, Mr. Addlespurger hinted a social problems perspective on his attack by mentioning the lack of legitimate opportunities for the teenagers, “People need to do things and create things and be more productive. If they can’t, they’ll be destructive and that’s not good. Kids need to have a metaphorical backpack of social skills and how to act responsibly. It concerns me that some kids have no values and nothing to live for.”
However, after the 16 year old attacker Dajour Washington was released from serving nine months in juvenile hall for aggravated assault, he claimed, “[it was] simply an impulse...

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