New reports of "knockout" incidents involving teens physically assaulting strangers have surfaced and it's prompting community leaders to call for an end to the violence.
Teens from cities in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia have been caught on camera approaching strangers on the street and knocking them to the ground with one powerful punch to the face or head in a game called "Knockout." Reports of the "game" have also surfaced in Massachusetts, Illinois and Missouri.
A D.C. woman in the Columbia Heights area was approached by a group of eight males on bikes last Thursday when one reached out, punched her in the back of the head and rode away, NBC's News4 reported.
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A 78-year-old woman fell victim 10 days ago in Brooklyn, making her ninth reported "Knockout" victim in New York. Authorities are investigating the attacks as hate crimes, NBC 4 New York reported. Some of the attacks have targeted members of the Jewish community.
The alarming trend gained national attention in May after a 51-year-old man died in Syracuse, N.Y., in the hands of a group of teenagers who knocked him out and stomped on him, according to The Post-Standard's news site Syracuse.com. In the same month, a 20-year-old man was sentenced to 55 years in prison after he struck and killed a man in St. Louis back in 2011, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
NBC10 in Philadelphia last week reported on a similar Internet trend called #SmackCam, which uses the Vine smartphone app to capture people being unexpectedly slapped in the face. What started out as a playful game spawned by boredom turned awry when more violent depictions of the game started popping up on social media site. A compilation video on YouTube has amassed 1.7 million views since it was posted in July.
People with Type T personalities, which characterizes risk-takers and thrill-seekers, are motivated to commit violent acts, like smacking strangers in public, according to Professor of Educational Pyschology Frank Farley.
"Many of the perpetrators may be these T types and one of their things is pushing the envelope," Farley told NBC Philadelphia. "It’s risky to go up and slap someone in public.”