Just before Christmas a past student and friend, we will call him ‘P’, came across the aftermath of a women being assaulted and robbed, spotting the culprit he gave chase calling for help from some bystanders, none was provided,
Despite threatening to ‘stick’ ‘P’, the muggers was taken down and arrested. When I mentioned this on our FB page it wasn’t long before ‘P’was labeled ’stupid’ for intervening and risking himself.
Una Mullally an Irish Times journalist went for a jog in Portobello in the early evening of Jan 4/2016, when she was surrounded by a gang of youths. She was circled, slapped and threatened with more harm. While this happened many people walked by, no one helped.
Why do people fail to intervene ?
Extensive research has been conducted on this area since a 1964 incident where Kitty Genovese was killed in an attack that lasted more than an hour, in Queens, New York. Her screams for help heard but unanswered by 38 of her neighbours.
Psychologists have labelled this phenomena ’The Bystander Effect”. Put simply, the more people around a situation, the less likely you are to be helped. Reasons cited for the lack of help include - Diffusion of responsibility - Fear of Harm - Fear of being wrong
What can you do?
As a victim, ask specific people for help, point and give instructions ,eg. ‘You, the man in red top, please call the police’.
As a bystander, realise that most will assume someone else will intervene. You can lead the way and take action, again specifically ask for help or give direction. If you feel equipped to, intervene, but if you do not intervene, then call the police, raise attention, shout out, do anything you can to help.
But Ultimately you must realise that the default behaviour for most people in a group is NOT to help.
So your safety is in your hands, No one is coming.. … It’s Up to you!