Bystander Effect - Why public don't assist a victim

Bystander Effect - In the recent Delhi gang rape case, this appalling social habit was glaringly evident. The girl and the boy were thrown out of the bus by the rapists. They were naked and injured, lying on the road in the bone chilling 2* Celcius cold night of Delhi - for more than an hour. Many passing vehicles only slowed down but none stopped. 
2 days back a woman accident victim was lying bleeding during day-time for 45 minutes on Mount Road, Chennai; no body came forward to assist her. She died on the way to the hospital.
Accident victim pleading for help
More such incidents in this video, convey that callousness is not limited to India. Public apathy is a socio-psychological phenomena all over the world.
Video - The Bystander Effect: Real incidents

Kitty Genovese 
Social Psychologists who studied the infamous 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese - said " That contrary to common expectations, larger numbers of bystanders decrease the likelihood that someone will step forward and help a victim. 
The reasons include the fact that - 
1. onlookers see that others are not helping either,
2. onlookers believe others will know better how to help, and 
3. onlookers feel uncertain about helping while others are watching 

In short the "Bystander effect' highlights the reality that more the number of people, less will come forward to assist a victim in crisis. Isn't it ironical?! 

Some experiments were done in UK . See these interesting videos, which bring out some interesting insights -
1) The greater the ambiguity its less likely for people to respond
2) Most want to fit into the social environment. They are reluctant to do something different from others.
3) Sex and social status of the victim also influence public response.
4) Communication to build familiarity, improved public response and empathy

THE BYSTANDER EFFECT - Psychological Experiment - Video 

Responsibility of Strangers - Social Experiment - Interesting Video

Chennai Bus day - A case in mob mentality
This public apathy comes out of an interesting factor - "Diffusion of Responsibility' .. It seems when the group is more than 3, people assume they are not responsible as an individual. In a different route, this factor also leads to mob mentality - resulting in gang rapes, looting or students taking over a bus during the 'Bus Day' in Chennai

A recent case of 'Mob mentality' was the Guwahati molestation
30 Guys molest a girl in public - Guwahati
In KravMaga classes to women, I stress more on the deterrent factors rather than the physical self-defence aspect, since its easier to apply preventive measures in a crisis. 
In the '10A-s of Personal Safety for Women' one of the A-s is ATTENTION. We tell the women to attract public attention to her plight. The passers-by should know without ambiguity that it's not a lovers tiff or a domestic fight. (You can download a soft copy of the small handbook here. It's for women) 
The net take is - a bystander is more ready to find an excuse for NOT stepping forward to assist a victim in distress.
What will you do? Look for an excuse or assist in whatever way you can ?


Videos -
KravMaga - safety tips for Children & Women - NDTV Hindu Chennai

SreeRam is a KravMaga self-defence instructor at Chennai, South India. He teaches Civilians, Chennai City Police and Security.
SreeRam has started W.A.H.R (Women against harassment & Rape)an NGO devoted to increase personal safety awareness amongst women and equip them to handle sexual harassment at public and work places.
SreeRam conducts KravMaga personal safety and self-defense workshops at corporates, especially IT/BPO companies where many women work late. He has also conducted workshops, for rural women.
On 8th March 2012 ( International Women's Day) KravMaga SreeRam released a small handy booklet for women titled " 10A-s of Personal Safety for Women" 
Mobile - 0-934 000 66 00 , Email -
Chennai Site -
TWEET - @kravMagaSreeRam


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