Are We Raising Bystanders?


Are We Raising Bystanders?

Recently several incidents have occurred in the media and to people whom I know and it is making me ponder upon the issue of us, as people, being bystanders. As a human race, do we have the courage that it takes to step up and do something when we see injustice occurring?

The bystander effects refers to the phenomenon that the more people present in a social situation, the less likely they are going to help someone during a time of distress. The bystander phenomenon has been portrayed in historical events such as the Holocaust, the beating of Rodney King, the prisoners of Abu Gharib, the genocide in Rwanda and countless others. Perhaps one of the more infamous examples of the bystander effect is the case of Kitty Genovese, a New York City woman who was stabbed by her home in Queens, NY in the early morning of March 13, 1934. She had apparently yelled for help and while several people had claimed that they heard her, no one had called for help until several minutes but at that point it was too late.

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In a more recent event on Christmas Day of 2010, a 42 year old woman by the name of Simone Back posted on her Facebook status “Took All My Pills Be Dead Soon So Bye Bye Everyone.” Not one of her 1082 Facebook friends called to check in on her or called emergency services despite commenting on her status. Some of these friends lived within walking distance from her house but still did not come over to check on her or call her. On the contrary, people mocked her on her Facebook page and told her that this was a choice she was making, further debunking the myth that people that really want to kill themselves, don’t tell others. Seventeen hours later the police broke into her apartment and found her dead. This is yet another one of the many examples that we hear of and encounter everyday as people of this world and fail to do what we are supposed to do, intervene, show concern, show empathy.

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Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Manisha Dayal


Manisha Dayal, Psy.D.

1300 W. Belmont #407

Chicago IL 60657

Location: Chicago, IL
Credentials: PsyD
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Multicultural Concerns, Post Traumatic Stress / Trauma
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