Point of View
The Bystander Effect
By Trevor Roberts
Dec 6, 2012 - 6:48:39 PM

A New York Subway Tunnel Photo courtesty of Facebook
UNITED STATES—There has been plenty of buzz with citizens across the world with the horror of the incident that took place inside a New York subway where a man was pushed in front of a moving train.  Tragically, he was killed.  What is appalling is the New York Post chose to place a photograph of the incident on the front page of their paper.  It was absolutely distasteful to see something that horrible as the cover piece for a paper. 


Even more alarming is the fact that the photographer who snapped the picture failed to attempt to rescue the man.  The photograph is very startling, but the individual who snapped the picture appears so close to the victim that he could have done something to pull him from the impending danger.  He went on the Today show to discuss with Matt Lauer about the incident.  His excuse of him taking the photograph was to use the light to alert the conductor that someone was on the tracks. That tactic did not work and I do not believe that for one second, neither do the vast majority of Americans. 


What’s even worse is that he has licensed the photo that he took and is selling it.  It goes alongside with what many of us encounter on a daily basis: the bystander effect.  We see something out of the norm and fail to react or intervene.  Some would equate it with bullying where people sit around and watch a bully pick on someone else.  We have to be a more reactionary culture.


If we spot someone in danger or in need of help we have to react; don’t just sit there and wait until it’s too late.  Without a doubt in my mind, I absolutely believe that photographer had more than enough time to reach his arm out to that man and pull him from the tracks before that horrible incident. We have become more and more concerned with our own well being, without the concern for others.  It’s just the right thing to do; if someone needs help in dire situations, if we’re unable to physically help that person, the ability to pick up the phone and contact someone that can is important.


Someone tragically lost their life at the hands of a disturbed homeless person.  That suspect has now been taken into custody and will be charged with murder, but I can’t help but think that an innocent life could have been saved if that photographer would have only quickly reacted to help pull that man to safety.

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