The Seven Deadly Sins in Christian belief are a list of seven rebellious tendencies that afflict humanity. They are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
If I could add an 8th deadly sin to the list, what would it be?
This is easy for me. Don’t be a bystander. See something; say something. Or do something. People who are bystanders think they play a neutral role though they rarely do. Silence/inaction often implies acceptance or support of the situation to those around them as well as to the offender and the offended.
What is the bystander effect?
This term refers to the phenomenon in which the greater the number of people present, the less likely they are to offer help a person in trouble. Social psychologists and researchers Bibb Latane and John Darley found that the there are two possible causes for this behavior.
- Diffusion of responsibility: Someone else will take care of this.
- Ambiguity of situation: People are unsure if there is a problem.
- Social influence: People in the group monitor those around them to determine how to act.
Latane and Darley’s research was conducted following the Kitty Genovese murder that took place in New York City in 1964. Genovese was stabbed to death three times outside of her apartment while people who observed the crime did not offer assistance or contact the police.
My own personal experience with the bystander effect occurred a few years ago in a crowded mall at the food court. I left my 15 and 12 year old daughters at our table while I ran to the restroom. When I returned, I was alarmed to see that my older daughter was being verbally assaulted by a scary looking male ruffian. His obscenity laced diatribe could be heard by all those seated around our table, yet no one intervened. I shooed him away and was able to get security to grab him, but my real anger was directed at the moms and dads seated all around us who watched this and did nothing. My younger daughter told me later that she made eye contact with a dad seated across from her and was using her eyes to “plead” with him to help them. A random mom came up to us later to ask if the girls were ok and I asked her why no one would help. She replied that maybe people thought it was my daughter’s boyfriend and was a lover’s quarrel? Classic bystander effect.
Here is a list of Ten Notorious Cases of the Bystander Effect.
Bullying and Bystanders at School:
Schools are now teaching students not only about bullying, but also about being a bystander. One of the strategies being used is teaching students how to be an active bystander. Students are encouraged to either intervene or get help for the person being bullied.
Hurtful Bystanders May:
- Instigate the bullying, but may not be the bully. This person gets the ball rolling.
- Support the bullying by laughing, cheering, mocking or commenting.
- Join in once the bullying has been initiated.
- Passively accept the bullying by doing nothing. Most bystanders fall into this category. Their silent acceptance and audience provides encouragement for the bully to continue.
Active Bystanders May:
- Intervene directly by standing up to the bully or stopping the bullying.
- Get help.
- Offer help. This can range from t sitting with the bullied student at lunch to gathering support from peers.
Here’s a great source full of information about active bystander strategies.
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