The Bystander Effect: a story of my failure

It's 2019/11/15. Something happened yesterday I have to write about, as much as I wish I didn't.

I was in a bookstore for a Spanish conversation meetup and I saw a man strike his child. The kid couldn't have been older than six. Fucking monster.

It looked like the kid fell. He was on the ground. And then got hit by his dad when he got back up.

I knew I should've done something. I should've run over and hit that man. I should have kicked his ass. If I saw him do it in public he must've done it thousands of times.

I wasn't surprised at myself for being a coward. There were dozens of people there. I couldn't have been the only one who noticed. But it's not like I would've needed to overpower the man or anything. If I had've just punched him, that would've made a statement that it's not acceptable to hit innocent people. Everyone in the building would've remembered the event, and they'd think about it next time they were bystanders to this.

It might've been easier to speak at the monster but not retaliate. But if I'd done that, all the other people in my group would remember me as the person who was too cowardly to stick up for the innocent, and worse, they wouldn't see it that way - they'd see it as me having an emotional outburst that overcame my "better" judgement.

But also, that wouldn't have been very useful. Probably most of the other adults there disapproved, but decided it "wasn't their place" to intervene. If I use words and not my fists, I'm sending the message that pleading is the solution to violence. And that's wrong. That belief is why this kind of problem will never be solved. It's like voting. I still should've done that over nothing, though!

I watched an innocent child get assaulted in public and did nothing. I made the situation worse, by contributing to the bystander effect. If anyone else noticed and recognized this socially acceptable violence for what it is, I was one more person in the room turning a blind eye, setting a bad example, making it harder to do anything.

The bystander effect

That's how I am. That's how this world is. Kids are property and no one gives a fuck.

Youth liberation


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