Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Alcohol-Related Assault: Time and Place

Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Alcohol-Related Assault: Time and Place

Article excerpt

Alcohol-related violence occurs throughout Australia. It happens between strangers, between friends and acquaintances, between relatives, and between sexual intimates. It happens in the home, in pubs and clubs, and on the street. It happens in the morning and at night. However, the incidence of alcohol-related assault is concentrated at certain times and places, predominantly where alcohol is consumed or is available nearby, more often on weekends and most often late at night or early in the morning, and more frequently from Friday to Sunday. One-third of males and over one-quarter of females were victims of alcohol-related violence in 1998. Most victims (and perpetrators) were young males.

When we control for a range of factors including how often people are away from home, what times they are away, with whom and where they consume alcohol, being young and being male still remain important risk factors for alcohol-related victimisation. In many respects, the problem is one which the young will "grow out of". A challenge remains for the alcohol industry, the community, and individual drinkers to promote and employ measures which support a safe passage for all, and more particularly young males, through the high-risk years.

Adam Graycar


Violence is a widespread and serious social problem in Australia. It, and other antisocial behaviours, have been shown to be related to the consumption of alcohol, though the nature of the association is far from clear. A range of factors (apart from, or in addition to, consumption patterns) can influence the likelihood, frequency, and severity of violence (Collins and Messerschmidt 1993; White and Humeniuk 1993; White, Fagan and Pihl 1994; Graham, Schmidt and Gillis 1996; Pernanen 1991). There is no simple correlation between the level of drinking and the likelihood of becoming a victim or a perpetrator of violence.

Previous research has demonstrated the importance of demographic factors, especially being young, being male, and being unemployed as predictors of alcohol-related violence (see, for example, Makkai 1997). Being both young and male is often cited as the most important predictor of being a victim or a perpetrator of violence, and of being both a victim and a perpetrator (see, for example, Williams 2000). However, research has also identified a range of situational factors, such as how often people are out and about, as predictors of alcohol-related victimisation (see, for example, Homel and Tomsen 1993; Parker 1993).

The Present Study

The present study aims to determine the strength of a variety of socio-demographic risk factors for being a victim of alcohol-related violence, which is defined as experiencing a physical or verbal assault, or being "put in fear" by an alcohol-affected person or persons in the previous 12 months. In particular, it examines the hypothesis that places where alcohol is usually consumed, times of absences from the home, and the frequency of such absences are more important factors in the likelihood of experiencing alcoholrelated violence than being young and male. That is, when controlling for the new factors, being male and being young cease to be independently associated with the likelihood of being assaulted.


The data come from the 1998 National Drug Strategy Household Survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (DHAC) as part of the National Drug Strategy1. The 1998 survey was administered by a combination of face-toface interviews and self-completion questionnaires. It was the sixth survey conducted since 1985 (AIHW 1999; Williams 1999). The sample comprised 10,030 persons aged 14 and over. Respondents were drawn from a geographic stratified random sample. For the purposes of this paper, the data have been weighted to account for the resultant design effect.

A range of questions about alcohol-related violence and other social disorder were included in the survey. …

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