Saturday, February 12, 2005

A Little Help?

This afternoon was lovely near-summer weather so I went for a rucksack march (so I was in uniform with 50+ lbs on my back). As I was coming back home I was running through the local high school park and I saw 4 14-15 year old boys running in the field nearby. One of them pushed over the guy in the front and as I was watching them they started to punch him and then started to kick him.

Naturally I turned towards them and started yelling. Just as I was about to throw one of them they started laughing, including the boy being "roughed up".

As it turns out they were conducting a little social experiment. They told me they had been doing this for awhile and I was the first person to actually help the "victim". Everyone else ignored them while one guy apparently ran away. They intended to do all this again with video camera for an amateur documentary.

I was reminded of a study I was told about in 1st year psyche about experiments where they would record people's reactions to someone lying "unconscious" on a downtown sidewalk. Almost no one ever helped.

Not surprising. I end up doing first aid a little more than once a year but I don't think I've ever seen an accident in progress. Each time I have been the first responder even though the accident happened several minutes before.

I'm pretty much wired to react, possibly due to my training (though perhaps not). But I guess the facts of life are that most people would rather look at their shoes than try to help a stranger.


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