Criminologist weighs in on dropping crime rates, ‘Knockout King’

Beth Huebner, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at UMSL, recently talked crime rates and ‘Knockout King” game with the Associated Press.

Crime rates over the last 15 years have decreased in most metropolitan areas, University of Missouri–St. Louis criminologist Beth Huebner said. But the Associated Press reported St. Louis city and county have dropped to their lowest serious crime rates in four decades. Huebner, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, said the city and county deserve some of the credit.

“This is part of a larger trend, but we also see these cities — and St. Louis in particular — implementing some unique strategies to fight crime,” she told the AP.

The AP story ran Jan. 19 in more than a dozen publications including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Columbia Missourian, Springfield (Mo.) News Leader and Jefferson City (Mo.) News Tribune.

Just before the talk of decreased crime rates, Huebner also discussed with the AP a growing trend of youth violence known as “Knockout King” or simply “Knock Out,” a so-called game of unprovoked violence that targets random victims. The story, which ran Dec. 24 in more than 300 publications including Boston Globe, Foxnews.com and Houston Chronicle, also discussed recent cases involving the game in the St. Louis area.

Huebner said the idea behind the “Knockout King” is to grab attention.

“We know that juveniles don’t think out consequences clearly,” she said to the AP. “They see something on YouTube and say, ‘I want to get that sort of attention, too.’ They don’t think about the person they’re attacking maybe hitting their head.”


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