Do Something

Many times in our society, we are faced with situations where if only we would have said something or intervened it could have prevented something tragic from happening. This has been the case in so many situations in life however; people choose not to get involved. One concept that we learned in our lesson that may bring some insight is the bystander effect. The bystander effect is when multiple people witness an emergency situation and do not intervene. (Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2012).  The ability to intervene and call for help could help a save a life.


I had a friend who went through something very tragic where the bystander effect did not work in her favor. My friend lived in a very sketchy neighborhood in the city. She worked the early shift at work, which required her to leave out of the house very early in the morning when it was still dark outside. One day she went to leave out of the house for work, which was very normal and typical for her and proceeded out the front door. On the way to get in her car, two guys ran up to her and grabbed her covering her mouth and confining her so that she could not get loose. She squirmed and tried her best to fight her way out of the situation but they managed to hold her down enough to throw her into their van. While this was going on there were several neighbors who saw and heard what was going on but did not choose to intervene. They also had a diffusion of responsibility where the neighbors didn’t want to say anything because they assumed the other would and they didn’t want to risk getting involved and something bad happening to themselves. Eventually, she was able to escape and now she is a living testimony offering hope and encouragement for those who have experienced trauma in that nature.


Overall, if the neighbors would have intervened, the outcome of the situation would have probably been totally different. I guess you have to consider you own safety as well but never assume that someone is going to do something always take precautionary measures and call the police if a situation looks to dangerous.



Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied social psychology: understanding and addressing social and practical problems. Los Angeles: SAGE.

1 comment

  1. Elizabeth Anderson

    Your post speaks so profoundly of today’s world and the bystander effect. It is scary to me to think that this is still a phenomena nowadays. The first recorded major incident of the bystander effect was the 1964 killing of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese that was a rape and killing witnessed in front of 38 people-neighbors at that- and on lookers from windows in New York (Urshcler, Fischer, Kastenmueller, and Fischer, 2015). While as you mentioned some may do it out of fear for themselves or just the general idea that someone else will call there is also other definition of people experiencing the bystander effect. The first of which is someone that is active. This person has the opportunity to do something about what is happening and does nothing. The other option is someone that is passive. They could have called for help or gotten help and did nothing. Neither of which is acceptable but only by blogs like yours can we better bring awareness and prepare ourselves to react and intervene in one way or another to help someone in need. I realize that your friend will never fully forget what happened but for her own sake I hope she is healing and was able to get counseling to help her. She is lucky to have a friend like you to confide what happened to her in! Have you considered taking a self defense class with her or has she already? While it is no guarantee they may have tips to help.


    Urshcler, D. F., Fischer, J., Kastenmueller, A., & Fischer, P. (2015, July 28). Bystander Effect. Retrieved April 09, 2017, from

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