Bystanders’ Reaction to Violence

In: Social Issues

Submitted By gigilus
Words 766
Pages 4
In October 2009, a Richmond, CA. high school student was repeatedly raped while a couple of bystanders watched; they laughed, took pictures, sent text messages and made phone calls as the crime was happening. None of the calls placed was to the police. While the bystanders in this case were mostly teenagers and young adults, this non-reaction amongst bystanders cuts across different age groups and gender. Sadly, this is a normal response from bystanders as acts of violence are committed. The passive reaction is borne out of our culture of individualism; a ‘me first’ or “what’s in it for me” mentality.
There have been several reasons argued for the lack of bystander involvement in thwarting an act of violence. The reasons put forward include, fear of being hurt in the process, the taboo of snitching, not recognizing the situation as an emergency and invasion of people’s privacy to name a few. If these are some reasons preventing onlookers from helping, how does one explain the case of Kitty Genovese?
Kitty Genovese was a woman who killed in New York in 1964. Her murder took all of thirty-five minutes, the attacker actually had the time to leave the scene, come back, and inflict more pain on her. About 38 people heard and saw this happening through their windows, from the comfort of their homes. Despite her screams that she had been stabbed, none of these people tried to help her, either by confronting the attacker or by contacting the police. The most help she got was someone screaming through the window; ‘leave the woman alone’. If the reasons afore mentioned are taken into account in this particular case, then the onlookers could and should have done more based on the fact that; they were not in harm’s way- they were in their homes, the screams and cries clearly indicated that this was an emergency and they could have placed an anonymous call. Their…...

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