One Punch Can Kill campaigners give up on young adults

THERE is no hope of educating young adults about the effects of violence in bars, clubs and on the street.

This is why organisers behind the One Punch Can Kill campaign aim their anti-violence message at younger students, in hopes of changing the culture of violence.

The One Punch Can Kill campaign is an initiative of the Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group.

The campaign was established in 2007 following the death of Queensland teen Matthew Stanley, 15, who suffered a brain injury after a violent attack outside a Brisbane home in 2006.

The support group's general manager Ross Thompson said while violence in today's society was most common among 18-23 year olds, the group focused on educating younger children.

He said it was too late to reach violent older teenagers and people in their early 20s with anti-violence messages.

"We're not going to change the way they think," he said.

"They already have set in their mind what they're going to do.

"We concentrate all of our efforts to the next generation, to plant the seed that violence is not acceptable. We have a chance of rescuing these kids.

"But unfortunately this sort of change doesn't happen overnight."

He said entertainment, especially computer games, desensitised kids to violence.

Staff members behind the One Punch Can Kill campaign have a goal - save a life.

Mr Thompson said they constantly saw the effects violence had on victims' families.

"We're the ones who pick up the pieces at the very end, we're the ones who see the damage left behind," Mr Thompson said.

"Our goal is to save just one life.

"That means we've saved a family from horror."

Mr Thompson said violence was definitely getting worse.

"A lot of people don't realise how many people are in hospital with a brain injury in relation to violence," he said.

He also said violence among girls was increasing.

"Girls seem to be the most violent at this point in time," Mr Thompson said.

"There are only a minority of girls involved in fights but when they are involved in fights it is very violent."

Not the hit, but the fall that hurts the most

IN MOST violent cases when a punch lands someone in hospital with a serious brain injury, it is the fall to the ground that does the most damage.

Emergency department doctor David Rosengren said a fall that caused someone to hit their head on concrete without bracing themselves had devastating effects on the brain.

This is where alcohol posed a serious risk in one-punch-can-kill situations.

"Most of victims of that have also had alcohol," Dr Rosengren said. "And if they've had alcohol it inhibits their natural reflexes to break the fall.

"They can be standing there and struck to the back of the head and just fall, unbroken and smack their head on concrete.

"It's a combination of everything but most likely people who die or who have devastating injuries from one punch are more likely to have struck the ground rather than the direct impact of the punch."

While not as common, he said there were cases where there were devastating effects from being punched and the victim did not hit the ground.

Dr Rosengren said it was hard to determine how badly someone would be affected depending on the assault; it all depended on where the brain was bleeding and the pressure this created.

"There is an entire spectrum (of brain injuries), there is no cut and dry classic injury," he said.

FAST FACTS

Between 2005-2012:

12% of unexpected punches resulted in death

18% of unexpected punches occurred in Queensland

37% of cases involved 18- to 23-year-olds

17% of cases involved 24- to 30-year-olds

82% occurred at a weekend

*Source: One Punch Can Kill website opck.qhvsg.org.au



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