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Bystander Apathy

As you wait to cross the street, a blind man is standing in front of you.Without warning, he begins to cross the street even though the light has not changed in his favor.He seems to be in no danger until you see a car about a half mile away speeding towards him.Totally unaware of the situation, the man continues walking across the street.As you and many others watch in horror he is struck by the car.Although every single one of you had plenty of time to rescue him, you just watched, hoping that someone else would do it. After all, you don’t know him so it’s really none of your business.
This is what is referred to as “bystander apathy”.People close enough to see, hear and possibly touch one another are socially distant and totally indifferent to the fact that another human being may be dying, in immediate danger, or asking for help.This extremely sad urban problem is just that- a problem of cities.The likelihood of this occurring increases with the number of people presentand it is probable that there will be many people to witness an event when it happens in high density cities.Urban sociologists, social psychologists, and criminologists have argued for years that the size of cities is directly related to the amount of “social pathology” they contain. The legal consequences are not severe.Unless an individual is a certified medical doctor, they have no obligation in Alberta to help anyone in need.So generally, they don’t.The personal consequences may be more severe.Feelings of guilt and regret may follow an event, especially if it ends fatally or if the individual feels that they could have done something significant.Because of this, people attempt to convince themselves and others that they were justified in their inaction because “it wasn’t their place”, “I didn’t want to do it alone”, or “I didn’t want to get involved.”Excuses like this often stem from fears of being seen as abnormal, possib…

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