Are you a bystander?

November 10, 2011

Photo taken from the British Red Cross campaign "Don't be a bystander. Be someone. Learn first aid."

Have you ever been one?

The following article talks about the Penn State scandal and how Joe Paterno “didn’t act, wrongly”.

I’m guilty on one occasion for  being a bystander: we were in a study group at a friend’s apartment and we could hear the neighbor being violent with his wife, throwing pans and glass bottles at her. We could hear her screaming and yet, the five of us looked at each other without saying a word. It seemed as if we were frozen, no one knew what number to call. I still feel guilty about not being able to react and having had done nothing that day. All I can say is that it’s easy to say “I would’ve had reported it”, yet when you’re in the situation, the bystander effect is contagious.

On another occasion, I overheard a co-worker saying sexually harassing comments in public to some ladies. And it happened again, everyone around him was quiet and didn’t say a thing. I decided to talk to my boss about it and I was asked to literally say what the harasser had said (which was something very uncomfortable to do because there were words that would never come out of my mouth). He thanked me for “reporting” it. Unfortunately, as far as the other women and I are aware, no action was taken.

Is it possible that there are so many bystanders around us? Do you think not acting is wrong? It seems even worse when it’s a football coach committing sex crimes against boys, right?

What would you have done if you had been in any of these situations?

How have you taught your kids that no one should touch their private parts?


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