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The “Knockout” game, have you heard of it?

It’s a game where young people randomly target a person who is alone and looks like they won’t fight back. They hit them over the head and knock them out. The person, not knowing what hit them, falls to the ground and lays there until they wake up on their own on the street or in a hospital. They have no time to fight back or respond.

It’s happening in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Chicago, St. Louis, D.C., and a few other cities in-between.

The youth who are caught say they are doing it because they’re bored and have nothing better to do. They say they don’t want to rob the victim.

The goal is just to single someone out, possibly on a dare by other members of the group, and leave the person unconscious on the ground or sidewalk, and just walk away.

Jews have been targeted.  They call it “Knockout a Jew.”

Women have been targeted in what’s called “Knockout a Woman.”

Elderly people have been targeted. A 78-year old woman was approached by a man she says was possibly 20-years old. She says the man punched her in the head and left.

Although a number of news organizations have reported that this is some new phenomenon, it is not.

A senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice tells The Christian Science Monitor that, “There is no evidence supporting this as a huge, viral number of attacks.”

The senior researcher says, “If the ‘Knockout Game’ really exists and isn’t just a media label, that could fit many of the hundreds of thousands of random attacks on strangers.”

In fact, he says he’s heard of incidents of this so-called Knockout Game dating back to 1996.

But, he and other investigators say the Knockout game is news now because just about everyone has a video phone or surveillance cameras and that video easily makes its way onto the internet.

Who’s doing it? It’s obvious from the video and where it’s happening. It’s inner city youth.

The same researcher says it’s important to realize this tiny ‘Knockout’ pattern is part of a stronger pattern of random violence against strangers in this country and that it may be time to take a hard look at how we engage, or disengage, teens when this kind of antisocial and violent behavior takes root in our communities: poor youth and child engagement, gang mentality, and a breakdown of the family and parenting.

What’s acceptable to some in our society, what’s funny, or entertaining, has become dangerous, criminal, even deadly.

What teens should know is if they do this they will get caught. They will go to jail like the 20-year old who accidentally killed a 72-year man in St. Louis in 2011. He’s serving 55 years in prison for second-degree murder because they thought it was funny.

Then there’s the 17-year old in Lansing, Michigan who was shot after trying to knockout a stranger with a stun gun that misfired.   The intended victim was reportedly waiting at a school bus stop to pick up his daughter and was legally carrying a concealed weapon.

Think it’s funny now?

The ‘Knockout’ Game is No Laughing Matter  was originally published on