“Boots More Harmful Than Weapons In Street Violence, Study Shows”: Time to ban boots?

Boots More Harmful Than Weapons In Street Violence, Study Shows

Main Category: Public Health News
Article Date: 17 Dec 2006 – 23:00 PST

The prevention of attacks involving kicking or blunt objects is just as important as preventing knife violence, new research from Cardiff University shows.

A team from the University’s Violence Research Group found that injuries inflicted with feet were more likely to result in severe injury than any other method of assault.

The team reviewed instances of violence resulting in treatment at the Emergency Department, University Hospital Wales, Cardiff between 1999 and 2005.

They found that while assault with a weapon was generally more likely to cause severe injuries than non-weapon assault, kicking was the single most likely method to cause severe injury. The next most likely methods were, in order, blunt objects, other body parts such as the head, and sharp objects. Fists, despite being the most common method of assault, were the least likely to cause serious injury.

The research, published in the international academic journal Injury Prevention, is the first ever to compare injuries by method of attack. Professor Jonathan Shepherd, who led the research, said the surprisingly severe injuries from kicking and blunt objects should make them just as high priorities as knives in violence reduction strategies.

Professor Shepherd said: “This might be achieved through public awareness campaigns and tackling alcohol misuse to reduce the chances of people falling over, since victims of violence are usually kicked after they have fallen.

“We also need to take action to reduce the availability of blunt objects coming to hand in licensed premises and city centre streets.”

While there was little difference between injuries inflicted by one assailant or two assailants, the severity of injury rose significantly when there were three or more attackers. Professor Shepherd said that group violence should therefore be a further priority for action.

The study found that men aged 47 were the most likely to be severely injured. Women accounted for 25% of all victims, a higher percentage than that in previous UK studies, possibly reflecting changing behaviour in recent years.


Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.

Injury Prevention

Injury Prevention is recognised as one of the leading international journals in its field. Its scope includes all types of unintentional injuries, as well as occupational and intentional (violence-related) injuries.

The journal is published by BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.

Professor Jonathan Shepherd
Cardiff University

Stephen Rouse

For further information please go to:
Cardiff University

Opinion of Editor of Medical News Today:

This is an interesting study, which raises a lot more questions than it answers – it will be interesting to see what proposals are made for reducing the availability of blunt objects – perhaps all chairs and tables should be fixed down, and all drinks provided in plastic containers? I feel alarmed that this might be the way the UK is heading – where will it end? Are handbags to be limited to a certain weight and should it be illegal to carry more than 6 keys on a keyring?

Safety footware is vital to so many professions – I can’t imagine how it would be possible to make Boots “just as high priorities as knives” – perhaps placing a “curfew” on shoes over a certain weight would be one solution? Introducing “Slipper only” laws for night clubs and bars would also be interesting…

It seems to me that increasing the penalties for the perpetrators of such violence would be a better solution than penalizing footwear manufacturers…

Perhaps the focus should not be on how to limit the amount of damage caused, but on stopping people from wanting to hurt others in the first place – there is a lot of pent-up aggression on the streets and this seems to be heightened by the effects of alcohol – for many years I lived just down the road from a night club – and most of the fights (a considerable number) happened in the early hours of the morning amongst drunk participants.

Editor: Jenny Hutchings

Medical News Today, Boots More Harmful Than Weapons In Street Violence, Study Shows, 17 Dec 2006 – 23:00 PST


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