Do Bystanders Have a Responsibility to Intervene When There is Trouble?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Fijoli, Sep 15, 2014.

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  1. There is a moment in our lives where we witness another person in trouble. Not online, in REAL LIFE, something that is happening right in front of us, be it bullying, assault, or someone is just hurt. When we see someone else in trouble, what does our instincts tell us. What lines are drawn between self preservation and being selfless?

    Which are you most likely to do in a situation like this;

    Take out your phone and start recording?

    Get involved and aid the person in trouble?

    Keep on walking by as if nothing is happening?

    How do You feel about social responsibility? If someone were to aid someone one the street that was in trouble would you join in to help the stranger?

    Personally, I have time and again gotten involved in many tussles, Growing up in Philadelphia, this scenario presents itself early. kindergarten was my first moment of knowing I had a responsibility. I didn't know what I could do but I remember not even taking a second to think about it before I ran over to the fight in the school yard and tackling the bully. This kid was known for being a bully. I didn't hit the kid or attack him, I just knocked him over and got hit a few times myself, I'll never forget the pain and how I imagined that kid felt.

    My intervening caught the attention of the school yard aids and they quickly came to help the kid...but before I had done anything there was this chaos of kids running around, some stopped to watch and others stopped briefly to run away with fear in their eyes. This poor kid still wound up in the hospital and was about 3 times smaller that this kid that had begun to pound him into the ground.

    I even got in TROUBLE in school and at HOME for getting involved.

    But no matter how much trouble I had gotten into for helping that kid, I never once regretted doing what I did.I was held back before I started school and I was also a big sister at home. I didn't fail school but my birthday fell just short of some deadline and I was held back for a year, making me a year older then everyone in my grades.

    Maybe this had something to do with my feelings about being responsible for others and protecting those needing help. Maybe not. Maybe I have always felt a social responsibility in public places to not always leave it up to the grown up, the police, or authority figures to help any and all situations that arose, perhaps I have and always will feel responsible.

    What do you guys think?

    Do you think bystanders have a responsibility to keep the public spaces around them safe?

    Note: Please be respectful of opinions and Considerate to what members have to say.
  2. I have such mixed feelings about this topic. I see folks wax poetic about the 'bystander effect' every time something goes viral about it. "Wow, look at these assholes just standing there doing nothing! They're just as guilty!" Then everyone goes on to talk about how they would behave better, they'd stop the assailant with their bare hands, they'd jump in and stem the bleeding, they'd comfort someone in their final moments...

    However, I doubt half of the people who claim this would actually act as heroically as they posture themselves to be online. It's so easy to say how you'll behave in a stressful situation, but in reality no one knows how they'll act until it happens.

    I know myself well enough to admit that I probably would freeze and would not be able to help. I suffer from horrible social anxiety, and it's hard enough to be out on my own as it is. I can't handle stress or pressure and frequently have nervous breakdowns about things smaller than an assault or violent accident occurring in front of me. I would call for help immediately, but I couldn't help myself. I'm not going to pretend like I would be a hero. I wouldn't be. Perhaps in a far away future where I don't have so many fears and phobias and insecurities I'd be able to act heroically... but not now.

    Now, I guess that brings me back to 'you have no idea how you'll act until it happens...' that goes both ways. I may know myself quite well, but since I've never been in a situation like this, even I can't say that I'd behave the way I imagine myself to.

    This is all about jumping in to help the person/people yourself, however. I think those who witness something horrible happening like an assault or accident and don't call for help if they cannot do something themselves are just pathetic. It's especially horrible when they just stand there with their phones out, snapping pictures. In that sense, yes, I think bystanders have a responsibility to assist. I think 'responsibility to keep the area around them safe,' however, is a little unrealistic.
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  3. I have always been of the opinion that the right thing to do is almost always the hardest thing to do.

    Following from that:

    I would rather be right, by myself, than wrong, with others.
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  4. I would hope that if someone sees another person being harmed or something to that nature they would help, at least try. Not everyone is alike. Everyone thinks and acts differently in certain situations. This actually a tough one to think about.
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  5. When I was a little kid, I was the PROTECTOR. >>;; We had a bus stop filled with peeps and I was that kid that protected all the kids from being bullied, and bossed people around and kept things from turning in to chaos. I did it fearlessly and without thought.

    Some time between 5th and 6th grade all that completely changed. I don't know if it is because of puberty, or because of my home life was getting bad, or what. But the fearlessness was GONE. I got targeted for some major asskickings and was unable to defend myself. (There was also no one to defend ME because I was the oldest of my friend, and I had gone on to a new age group) So with school bullying combined with at home bullying, I never really bounced back from that. >> I am -terrified- of conformational situations, physical and verbal. I breakdown and cry and can't deal with it.

    THUS, if something goes down around me, I know I will prolly stand there in horror or run away. I WISH I could say I'd jump in and do something, but I am pretty certain my sense of self preservation and fear would be stronger than my protectiveness. I am just not brave enough to be THAT person.
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  6. Personally, I think it comes down to how we are hard wired. Instinctualy, we are progr as med to be alpha or non alpha. This obviously n relates to animals as well. If we are the non alpha type we are inclined not to make waves so to speak, or confront the obvious alpha. Those who have an alpha personality won't feel as afraid or uncomfortable "going against the grain." Now those are my thought on the subconscious portion of this answer.

    Consciously, I'd like to say we all want to stand up for the underdog but are unsure of ourselves, or are just plain nervous of turning the attention on to ourselves. I used to be too timid to react in those situations, but somewhere close to adulthood I made a change in my life to stand up for myself and others who couldn't for themselves. Most of the time I find those people feel pretty dumb when I call them out on being rude, hurtful, or disrespectful to others.
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  7. I think some people are ill-equipped to intervene. If stepping in front of a bully/thug/mugger is going to get you seriously hurt, you probably shouldn't. If that is the case, take note of the person; snap a picture, get the license plate, etc. You can always report it.

    Personally, I intervene. I was bullied until I had a growth spurt after my freshman year of high school. I cannot, in good conscience, stand by and watch someone being taken advantage of by another person.

    This is not without consequence. I have scars and some bones that aren't perfectly straight but I have never regretted any decision to stand up for someone being accosted.

    Good topic, @Figoli.
    #7 WarriorHeart, Sep 15, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2014
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  8. factoid

    good samaritan laws do not universally protect you from legalrepercussions depending on certain scenarios

    for instance, they do not protect medical professionals serving in the normal routine of duty

    they do not protect medical professionals at volunteer athletic events

    funny how that works
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  9. I try my best to stop said bully/attacker/persecutor/ etc when I see it happening. I am not the strongest person, but I have found that the way I word things seem to make the person stop. I don't really know what I do, but it works. I'm glad to say I do not see that much psychical bullying in public. When I do see it though, I try my best to stop it. However there are some moments where I feel it's best to notify an authority.
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  10. I was bullied as a kid and knowing how that feels i'm the type who will step in if possible. probably recklessly but i'll do it.
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  11. [​IMG]
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  12. Yes, I'll help people if I think I can. Done it before and I'll do it again. I don't ask for thanks or recognition. Don't need it. I've learned to protect myself so I extend that to others if I can. Aside from that, I think people should learn to defend themselves. Martial arts of any kind can give you a measure of confidence that lets you stand up to bullshit. I've always believed that everyone has the right to not be a victim.
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  13. I like everything about your post, Pete, except the 'butt goblin' thing. X_x Really?
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  14. LOL forgot I even had that there.
  15. No one has the realistic responsibility, no. In an ideal society, with pretty ethics and all that, sureā€”but as was already mentioned, no one can accurately depict their actions in a situation until it happens. They can speculate and cry and moan and self-aggrandize, but when it comes down to it, most people (myself included, likely) would be pissing their pants, finding it entertaining, or too petrified to step in.

    Me, I always feel responsible when it comes down to these kinds of things. If no one else is going to step in and do something, who will? If it gets down to it, time is of the essence and people shouldn't be faffing about doing stupid bull in a crisis. I've been known to be the person people expect to be collected when the shit hits the fan, but in the case of a public setting? I've never experienced it. I can easily say I'd like to be the good guy, but I don't know that. Everyone wants to be the good one, the one everyone pats on the back and congratulates for being a great person, but humans are defined by self-preservation, an instinct that outweighs most everything else in crisis situations, particularly if they're one of the participants.

    People can do their part in the way they know how, but whether or not they do so is up to them. Whether this is "bad" or "good" falls on the scales of morality and ethics, which are largely instinctive and subjective (in reverse, respectively). Through what I've already seen, if a person has a phone, it's a dice roll whether they'll use it to take pictures or call authorities or both. I'd probably do both, and that's without idealism leaking everything, because even if I can't get in there and break faces, I can call in people who can and take pictures and give testimonies. None of this is my objective duty as a bystander, though: it's my personal code. This is coming from a person that saw someone walking home dangerously close to the middle of traffic that forced the driver of the car to stop at a gas station and call for them, then flip a bitch to go check on their safety, report that yes, I did call, and (like a dumbass) ask the person if they needed a hug.

    I need to go punch a shark in the mouth now.

    edit: Physically, if I saw someone being attacked or bullied, lol nah. I fully admit I probably wouldn't be the first person to intervene, though I'd definitely be one of those that called someone. If it came down to it, and no one else was going in, maybe someday I would take one for the team. Hasn't happened yet, though (outside of certain circumstances that are outside the realm of this supposed situation).
    #15 castigat, Sep 16, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
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  16. I can't say I blame people for not being able to act quickly under stressful situations; it's something entirely different if they're just standing around and taking pictures for shits and giggles, but suddenly freezing at the spot due to panic is very undestandable. As for myself, I'm usually able to keep my cool in most circumstances as I'm a) not afraid of blood, b) magnet for weird catastrophes, c) probably too stupid to mind my own business, so I usually will help if it's possible. Actually, I remember one guy in elementary school broke my nose and finger because I stood up for my classmate. I couldn't do much as I was tiny and I didn't do any martial arts back then, but I'm still glad I didn't remain a quiet spectator.
  17. Panic and fear is an instinct, one that has kept humans alive and evolving for centuries, depending on the situation at hand there are moments in which getting physically involved does have its consequences.

    Perhaps it all boils down to weather or not you have the instinct to do what is right, and doing what is right does not always mean punching the villain in the face, or fighting back physically sometimes....

    sometimes...all it takes is action. Calling the police, grabbing the attention of others, if you are panicked and frozen...there is no excuse, you can do what you do best and scream bloody murder, scream for help, cry for help, getting someone else to help is just as good as stopping it yourself, you didn't just stand there doing nothing. in public if someone causes you to feel fear, they have made you a victim and that is your time to act like one, use that fear to help yourself and that person in trouble. Being smart, and safe ensures your survival, and sometimes all we can do to help is act as the sirens and give away our enemies position.

    To me fear is not an excuse to not do the right thing.

    Do we have a responsibility to those in trouble? maybe not, I don't look at it that way.

    You must look at this from all angles...if it were you. What If you were being bullied, assaulted, or you were injured...

    This video proves that you do not always have to be strong, know martial arts, or hurt people to help someone in trouble. some times all it takes is speaking up or getting someone who can help.

    I truly don't believe that it is a responsibility to save others from trouble.

    But It is absolutely our choice to let fear control not just our fate but the fate of others.

    When you begin to realize that a bad situation is happening near you, Sometimes just taking out your camera and telling the person you have there actions on record and you will tell the police. Sometimes there is no time to think, The ways you can help others is Not anyone's responsibility, but it is and always will be the right thing to do.

    You become a Blind victim when you witness something and freeze into fear. For those of you who spend alot of time in public places, It is important to be safe, asses your situations, and act. ACT with confidence, use your smarts.

    You can stop bullying, you can help someone who is injured, you can prevent children from being kidnapped, you can use your phones and cameras as weapons and your voice as a beacon for more aid. To do nothing means you are allowing yourself to be a victim, Don't let anyone do that to you. I know not all of us are out in the public very much, but I made this thread mainly for those on college campus, those living and walking on city streets, those standing, These situations can easily happen to any one of us and while I do not think it should be considered a responsibility, I feel strongly that fear can be conquered and the choice to become a victim is just that, A choice.

    I want to thank everyone in this thread for sharing their opinions, and voicing what you felt on this growing epidemic of an issue. I appreciate and learned much from all of you. We cannot know for sure how we will react until the occasion arises...but now we can prepare ourselves before they do. All of you who participated in this debate are now more aware and educated on the subject, and we all learned from each other. The real question is...

    What will you do if a situation like this presents itself to you, and will you do the right thing?

    NSFW video Content
    every video I am about to share is Full of Triggers
    If you cannot handle the truths behind the tragedies of bullying, kidnapping, and rape.
    Do not watch these videos.
    We all come to terms with our pains on our own and in our own time and No one is going to judge you.

    You can help.
    You can make the difference.
    You can make the choice to Love instead of fear.
    To believe you can't before it happens, is to deny yourself that choice.

    If these situations happen around you, please take caution, Get help, Scream for help, or do step in. Judge the situation with fellow bystanders, and Please be safe. These things can happen at any time, in any place, to anyone.

    These video's will show proof and examples of how to handle situations like these and how the people choose to handle them.

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  18. Ohhh this is always such a tricky question. Personally I don't think you're obligated to help out, it would be very much appreciated if you did, but nothing says you have to. If you stop to take pictures, record, or simply observe though... Well, that's just cruel. You're taking time outta of your day to stop and document this event, you might as well do the more respectful thing and help out instead.
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  19. A responsibility? Maybe, but that typically ends at calling the police/emergency services.

    Did you find a lost child? Stop and help them out.
    A much larger kid beating on a much smaller kid; pull them apart, there's little risk to you unless the parent enabling their violent behavior decides to make something of it.
    If you know or suspect someone's in an abusive relationship, you need to talk to them and learn more.
    ...Rape? ..Are you really going to witness that in a public setting? If you see someone mess with someone elses' drink at a social setting, or try to take advantage of someone completely wasted yes, you have a responsibility to intervene.

    Most of these choices have very little risk to you, the individual, and you SHOULD intervene in them, but there can still be consequences for even the most benign situation. Children are easily coached in court to tell lies, and to lure people into traps. Google "Lost Child scam/hoax/trap" (pick one) for some examples of this.

    Let us be realistic. Intervening in a situation can cause more harm than good if you're not careful.

    For instance, if you're a poor swimmer, you are not obligated to jump into the water to save someone drowning.
    Equally, If you can't take a punch or overpower the combatants, you shouldn't be intervening in a fight because you can get hit in the confusion, as I have, or turned on by both parties. Even with bullying, if you're still a student in school, you can be suspended or expelled for doing what is right.
    If you don't know CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, or proper first-aid procedures you can cause more harm than good to someone already in trouble.
    Even if you are fully trained, as Razilin has already said, there's a lot of legal complications in these matters. For instance, in this older article, you can face legal repercussions, even as a medical practitioner, for going against DNR(do not resuscitate) orders.

    I really don't think it's fair or reasonable to say that someone has to martyr themselves to do the right thing, or that by-standers are required to get involved.
    I do however think it's safe to say that it's sad that our society has decayed pretty far because of spiteful morons, and their laws prevent able people from doing the right thing.
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  20. I think your post is spot on @Dioxyne . I agree with everything you said.

    I am a Certified Nursing Assistant. Now if I wasn't one I'd be able perform CPR as well as many other things to help someone in need out in public without receiving any backfire. However, now that I am certified, if I were to intervene to help someone with things like cpr, a fallen elderly person, someone suffering from a seizure, heart attack, etc... I can be held personally responsible, thrown in jail, or sued if something happens to that person... whereas I wouldn't if I were not certified.

    It's a shame.
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