Glassing and ‘mugging’: Sensational media or a huge problem for injury prevention?

Glassing – that is, assault with a glass implement – often involves an assailant smashing a glass into someone’s face, at which point the glass shatters and the victim is cut by the glass shards. In Australia, popular media has paid much attention to this issue, possibly in part due to the sensational nature of the injury: typically an innocent person is drinking alcohol, some sort of negative interaction occurs with another person (usually, though not always), and the perpetrator lashes out with the glass/bottle from which they themselves have been drinking. Injuries can range from mild cuts and bruising, to deep gouges requiring surgical repair, permanent nerve damage and impaired vision, therefore it is understandable that glassing is on the injury prevention agenda. Various state governments in Australia introduced bans on glass cups and bottles in licensed venues throughout 2008-2010 in response to these injuries, and it appears that glassing injuries have reduced in these venues (which appears to simply reflect a reduction in access to the injury mechanism) . Glassing is ‘sensational’ but does this mean it is a huge problem?

Laing, Sendall and Barker recently examined the injury surveillance data of alcohol-related injuries between 1999 and 2011. Perhaps unsurprisingly to Injury Prevention readers, of the 4629 cases examined, 72% were male. Over one quarter were males aged 18-24 years, and 9% of injuries identified were due to glassing. One third of alcohol-related glassings occurred in the home, with a bottle the mechanism of injury in 84% of cases. One quarter of cases occurred in a public space (e.g., outdoors, street) with bottles again the most common mechanism of injury. Interestingly 33% of 18-24 year olds reported glassings occurred in a licensed venue, with bottles and drinking glasses equally likely to be the mechanism of injury. Read more at

For international readers, a popular practice in Australia for youth who have just finished Senior (year 12) studies is to frequent the Gold Coast for a week of partying, known as Schoolies. States finish their studies at different times, with Queensland Schoolies being held last week. In an attack reminiscent of glassing, a girl was assaulted with a ceramic mug which smashed and caused cuts which bled profusely as head wounds do. Again, sensational, however not a huge problem for injury prevention. Read more at

I will leave it up to readers to decide if glassing and ‘mugging’ indeed are huge injury prevention problems.


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