Viewing a Crime in Progress
By Susan Bartelstone
Personal Safety and Crime Prevention Specialist
How to Help Safely!
Someone sent me a video clip of a segment from the TODAY show called "Protecting Your Kids." The clip showed several simulated abduction scenarios in which a security specialist played the role of a child abductor and a seven-year old girl posed as the potential abductee. The purpose of the staged scenarios, which took place in broad daylight on a heavily-trafficked New York City street, was to see if people passing by would take action, and if so, what action.
The little girl was screaming and yelling for help and carrying on very convincingly as the "abductor" attempted to drag her off; but time after time, no one stopped or intervened in any way. It was frightening how many people wouldn't get involved. According to the show's host, it took hours before anyone actually confronted the "abductor" and tried to help the little girl.
The "Bystander Effect." This is a perfect example of what is called the "Bystander Effect." Experts have found that most people in a crowd become frozen with fear and denial if they happen to view (or hear) a crime in progress and are unlikely to take any action to help the person in trouble If just one person responds, however, that seems to unfreeze everyone and others will usually join in. This is exactly what happened in the video clip.
To be fair to the onlookers, in several of the scenes shown on the clip it did look simply like a father was disciplining his unruly daughter. While many just walked right by, some people did stop or turn around but were clearly confused as to the severity of what was happening. In others scenes, however, the child yelled "You're not my father" and/or "Please help me." Here there was no doubt as to what was happening, and finally, two young men charged the "abductor."
If you hear some one yelling for help, whatever the circumstances may be, you do need to heed it!
How to help. Here are four tips for providing assistance to someone in trouble without jeopardizing your own safety:
Viewing a Crime in Progress courtesy of
The Safety Solutions Company *** www.dearsafetysolutions.com
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