Last Friday in New York City, police charged one man for punching a 24-year-old Jewish man. Police said there have seven other similar attacks in Brooklyn and believe the motive may be related to anti-Semitism. All eight victims, including the 78-year-old woman, were Jewish and the NYPD's hate crimes task force is investigating.
"This I believe is a real economic issue where those who have nothing feel that they have nothing to lose," Gardere said. "Not only do they get a thrill out of doing something so horrific but then they get to watch it and then they get the positive reinforcement of people just watching these videos and these videos, no pun intended, getting hit after hit after hit after hit and these kids are finding some sort of immortality by their bad behavior."
But in the Addelspurger case in Pittsburgh, the 16-year-old perpetrator said race was not an issue.
"It was nothing," he said. "No matter who walked down that alleyway at that time they would have got hit, I'm just being blunt with you and giving it to you raw."
Some say the media may be exacerbating the problem by repeatedly showing these videos, but experts said parents can use this as a teachable moment, and talk to their kids about the dangers of not only being victims but also perpetrators.
The young man captured on surveillance tape from Pittsburgh was released a few months ago from a juvenile detention center where he spent nearly a year. He now said he is trying to turn his life around.
"I'm ashamed that I did that, embarrassed that I did that, wish I could take it back. I just felt like I owe him something," he said. "I'm going to feel like I always owe him something for the rest of my life."
As for other kids who might be tempted to randomly attack someone, the young man said they need to think twice.
"I wish I could take every kid who's doing that and put them what I've been through for a quick second and like they would just like, 'woah, I don't want no part of that,'" he said. "I guarantee they wouldn't even think about doing it. ... It's not even just the freedom and the juvie, the fact of knowing that you did that to somebody who didn't deserve it at all."