Families and surgeons have pleaded for a national symposium to address the issue of king-hit attacks, as Australian youth violence is reaching epidemic proportions.
It is estimated that king-hit attacks left 3500 victims with permanent brain damage last year. At least 20 Australians have died as a result of these assaults in the last seven years. And it’s predominantly a problem amongst young men, with 98% of attackers being male, and less than 11% being over the age of 30.
Highlighting the need for a national dialogue on king-hits and alcohol-fuelled violence, Natalie Cook recently spoke out about the death of her son Sam, 17 who was killed by a single punch in 2008.
Mrs Cook believes that parents, police, education departments and health departments need to pool their resources, as presently they are single voices not being heard.
Other parents are supporting the call for a national symposium on youth violence as the situation is reaching a crisis point.
Medical experts are now concerned that using the term ‘king-hit’ glorifies these attacks against unarmed victims. They argue that the term ‘sucker punch’ should be used instead, as it accurately reflects the level of violence that is involved.
Dr Anthony Lynham, Australia’s leading Maxillofacial Surgeon, is adamant that a national youth violence task force would help address the issue. While parents are proactively tackling the problem by campaigning and handing out flyers, there is only so much they can do by themselves.
On Mondays, Dr Lynham currently spends his day in the operating theatre reconstructing victim’s faces. These victims are sons, brothers and even fathers who have been assaulted during weekend drinking binges. In fact, last year his team worked on a total of 394 facial assault cases.
His staff are not alone, as there are similar teams based in every Australian city who are working to reconstruct the faces of victims in the aftermath of the weekend. Dr Rodney Allan, Neurosurgeon, has seen far too many patients with severe brain damage caused by king-hits.
“Even after a single punch, if you do an MRI scan you will see evidence of damage. A single punch is one too many. If the victim is young that is going to affect them for the rest of their lives,” says Dr Allan.