Monday, January 10, 2011

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF . . ?



by Kate Collins

Have you seen the TV show entitled, “What Would You Do?” It’s a fascinating psychological study that is at times uplifting and at other times frightening. For instance, a young woman collapses on a sidewalk near where paramedics are taking their break. They’re all actors, of course. But to people passing by, it looks like they won’t help her. Sadly, many people mere walked around her while others stepped forward to help. In some cases, they chewed out the paramedics. The scenario was based on an actual event where the person actually died because she didn’t get help in time.

My son recently witnessed a real life incident where a woman in her mid-to-late thirties, obviously drunk, fell down five cement steps onto the sidewalk below. Her companions were too drunk to be of much assistance, and my son reported that most people stepped around her with looks of disgust. Only one bystander stopped to ask if she was all right or needed assistance.

I’ve always been the kind to rush in (where angels fear to tread?) It might be the Irish in me, but I’m not shy about speaking up. I can’t stand to see unjust behavior. That’s why I created a main character in my books who fights injustice. Abby Knight goes boldly where I’m not always able to tread. I’m hoping this TV show encourages people to step forward. It is often said that good karma comes back to the person tenfold. I’ll go for that!

What type of person are you? Would you stop to help a drunk woman? Would you stop to help an old man who was being harassed by teen bullies? Have you ever witnessed an event where people refused to get involved?

16 comments:

Jessica said...

Oh how I love this topic! I AM that girl who doesn't ever hesitate to stand up for someone! I had it out with a parent once in the middle of walmart because he backhanded his lil girl (she couldn't have been more than 3) and then yanked her pants down and started spanking her. In my opinion not appropriate at any time but definitely not in walmart!

ev said...

I have no problems jumping and have done on many occasions. (Could be 15 years in the guard has something to do with acting no reacting).

We were in a restaurant on day when someone at a table started choking and my friend and rushed over to help. No one else got up from their tables, just kept on eating.

Whatever happened to the common courtesy of helping out someone in need instead of the apathetic attitudes that many seem to have today?

Dru said...

I'm one to step in and offer my assistance, but if I can't physically help, I'll be on the phone dialing 911.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Thats funny you mentioned the Irish in you. I was thinking I was the one that always tried to help no matter what.... I am Irish too. LOL

Leann Sweeney said...

Being a nurse, jumping in to help is second nature. You just do what needs to be done. But studies show that the MORE people that are around, the less likely anyone is to help. They assume someone else will do what's needed. That's why when I taught CPR I always told my students that if they are assisting a victim, they should point directly at one other person nearby and say, "YOU. Call 9-1-1."

Kate Collins said...

Jessica, good for you! I would have stepped in, too, if I'd seen a small child treated that way. Leann, that's a great tip. I'm tucking that one away just in case.
Ev, I'd say your guard training absolutely helped you feel confident about helping. I think it takes confidence along with a sense of outrage. I've wanted to read that book, "The Death of Outrage," because it seems that apathy has settled over the country. But maybe this TV show will encourage people to step forward. One can only hope, right?

Rural View said...

Since I'm the only one in the world who doesn't carry a cellphone, I would think the least people could do would be to dial 911.

Min said...

I'm known among my friends and family for having a big mouth. I'm the one who makes snide comments at the airport about my Fourth Amendment rights (much to the embarrassment of my mother - well, she shouldn't have sent me to such a liberal law school!), so I'm definitely not one to keep my mouth shut when I see someone behaving badly. I'm the one who berates drivers for blocking crosswalks, bicycling on sidewalks (unless they're five years old), or a group of people who feel it necessary to take up the entire sidewalk as the stroll leisurely down it (ah, city living).

So, I'm definitely not afraid to step it up if something serious was going down or if someone was in need of assistance. I think Abby and I would have fun hanging out for a weekend (or else my friends would have to use that bail fund they keep joking about having ready for me).

Also, I used to teach weaponless self-defence to women, and another tip we taught (in addition to the one from Leann, above) was that if you ever hear someone call out "Call 9-1-1!" in a domestic violence situation, mugging, etc., yell back "I already did!" This has sometimes been enough to scare the attacker into stopping immediately and fleeing. Then, you know, please actually DO call 911.

dollycas aka Lori said...

before my accident I was a true "butinski" any time I saw anything out of line. It's harder in a wheelchair to help but it's also easier to say something because people tend to back off and give me space. I have witnessed and got involved especially when kids are involved and have no problem with my big mouth to bring attention to something and get other involved. Yes, over the years, I have been told to mind my own business or butt out but it is not in my nature so people deal with it. Life is too short, bad things happen too fast, go with your gut and don't ignore things, call 911, if your wrong about something the embarrassment last minutes, if you are right you could be saving someone's life.

Booklady said...

If I felt I could personally help, I would and I have. If I couldn't help, I would find someone who could. I admit that if someone were being threatened and I felt threatened, I wouldn't physically step in, but I would call 911. I know I would want someone to do the same for me.

Linda Leszczuk said...

First Aid/CPR classes often begin with a discussion of why people don't get involved. unfortunately, those reasons include fear of being sued for doing the wrong thing, fear for one's own safety if help is not wanted or accepted, the assumption that someone else will do it, personal judgements (it's his/her own fault), and plain old apathy.
I'm old fashioned - I always stop and at least offer my help.

Debra said...

I jump in. I was in front of a store on Saturday-and an old man bent down to pick up some coins and I helped him up. I could relate because I have arthritis and know that getting up is waaay harder thsn getting down. I was at the beach with the water just up to my ankles and a woman's baby was swept out of her arms. I grabbed the baby on impulse. I am not tooting my horn, I just think some people are good in emergencies and others have a delayed reaction response.

Rita B said...

I agree with Debra. I'm the same way. See something needs to be done.......jump in and do it! There is nothing worse than mans inhumanity to man.

signlady217 said...

I don't think any of us actually know how we might react until a situation presents itself. But unfortunately most of us won't get involved, for all the reasons already mentioned. And if "helping" isn't taught to kids from when they're very small, they're even less likely to "help" when they're older, so it becomes a cycle.

Kate Collins said...

I totally agree. Children are taught by example. My kids know I'll jump in, and hopefully in a similar situation, they would too.
Good comments, ladies.

Chèli said...

I know I have a big mouth and I am not afraid to say something to someone if I think that their behavior is inappropriate. I'm a stranger to them but if they are mistreating someone else and I am publicly witnessing it, I'm going to tell them to cut it out. If their embarassed, so what. I'm not going to be embarassed because these people are never going to see me again, so why shouldn't say something?