Stranger danger and male assault

A notable number of assaults of males are perpetrated by more than one unknown attacker, new data from Flinders University shows.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Hospitalised assault injuries among men and boys, shows that of the 19,000 plus people who were hospitalised because of an assault in Australia in 2014–15, three-quarters (about 12,800) were men and boys.

Rates of hospitalised assault injury were highest among men aged 20–24 years (239 cases per 100,000 population).

The report also showed that males are much more likely than females to be assaulted by somebody they do not know.

Professor James Harrison from the AIHW’s National Injury Surveillance Unit based at Flinders University’s Research Centre for Injury Studies.
Professor James Harrison.

“In cases where the perpetrator is recorded, more than 1 in 3 assault cases among males was due to an unknown attacker, compared to about 1 in 14 for females,” says Professor James Harrison from the AIHW’s National Injury Surveillance Unit based at Flinders University’s Research Centre for Injury Studies.

“For about 1 in 5 cases, the assault was perpetrated by more than one unknown attacker,” he says.

The pattern was similar across all age groups between the ages of 15 and 64, but the highest proportion of cases that resulted from an attack by multiple unknown perpetrators occurred among young men (aged 15–24).

In more than two-thirds (69%) of all cases involving multiple unknown perpetrators, the assault was by bodily force (for example, in an unarmed attack or brawl) and this proportion was particularly high for cases involving younger men.

In cases where the place the assault occurred was known, attacks by multiple unknown perpetrators most commonly occurred on a street (about 40%), with another 20% occurring in a café, hotel or restaurant.

In cases where the perpetrator was known to the victim, family members were the most commonly reported perpetrators (almost 1 in 3, or about 1,700 cases), followed by acquaintances or friends (1 in 5, or 1,200 cases).

Research released by the AIHW last year showed that for women and girls, a spouse or domestic partner was the most likely perpetrator in cases where the perpetrator was known, making up almost 60% of cases.

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