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The Bystander Effect – As many as 20 people witness gang rape & fail to report
A dear friend sent me a link to this very sad story. Basically, a 15 year old girl was gang raped outside a school dance for over two hours while as many as 20 people watched or participated in the attack. No one called 9-1-1 or reported the crime. My friend sent me the link with a note attached that read, “why isn’t self-defense mandatory in high schools?” I don’t have an answer. I don’t know.
I also don’t know why so many kids stood by and allowed this to happen. There are already dozen of articles out there hypothesizing about what happened here. Was it a bystander effect (which is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a large group of people witness a crime and diffuse responsiblity among the group)? Did they fear retaliation from the group? Have they been desensitized by the violent and sexual media that surround us? I could go on and on listing the theories that abound on this topic.
I recently took a CPR re-certification class. We had already learned half of the skills that the class teaches when one young girl in the back raised her hand and said, “ok, I understand how to do this, but how do I know when to do it?” It is an excellent question.
We teach our children about 9-1-1 from a young age, but do we tell them when to use it? Do we have them practice dialing the number (with the phone unplugged, of course) and teach them how to answer basic questions that an emergency dispatcher might ask? When we get in new situations, we often freeze and witnessing a violent crime is no different. When will we begin to teach our children the basic skills they need to survive and thrive in this world? Violence happens. We can’t ignore it or deny it. We must take responsiblity for teaching our children these skills. And we must learn to help each other. Afterall, if we weren’t put on this planet to help each other out, then what are we here for?
Our thoughts and prayers are with this girl, her family, and her community.