…of a comment turning into a blog post of its own.
NUGUN, over at “New User Of Guns” posted a link to a story about a test wherein a 7 year old girl feigned abduction to see how people would react. The link in his post is to a facebook video…here’s a link to the same video on youtube in case you don’t have facebook.
NUGUN was a bit appalled by the results of that test. He makes some excellent points with regard to the potential causes for such inaction, but I believe he misses a couple of big ones.
I started to leave this as a comment, but…as usual…I wasn’t able to say it succinctly enough for comment length posting…so I moved it over here as a post. Have I mentioned how useless I find Twitter to be? 140 characters? I can’t say “hello” in that short a space…but I digress:
My response to his post:
Why did this happen? Why did this simulation fail so miserably?
I think there a number of influencing factors. Some people may have just been so occupied they didn’t register what was going on. Others, figured “Someone else would do something.”
I believe a significant contributing factor is our societies government encouraged dictates to “not act”. Our government repeatedly instructs it’s citizens to let the “authorities” handle it. Don’t be involved, let the professionals take care of it. All in the name of safety…
I think your analysis of the causes of such inaction is correct as far as it goes…but I don’t think it goes far enough.
Your point that a large part of the blame can be placed on the indoctrination we receive from the earliest age (especially those raised in an urban or even suburban setting) to “let the professionals handle it” is right on the money…and the phenomenon of everyone being frozen into inaction by the fact that no one else around is acting is a factor as well.
But I think a good portion of the blame lies in a another idiosyncrasy of our society, and some behaviors that derive from that idiosyncrasy, as well:
Modern society’s general lack of prowess at parenting and the types of behavior we’ve come to expect from other people’s kids.
I have neighbors behind me with little kids. Those little kids play in the back yard pretty much all day long all summer long. They are constantly screaming as if in abject terror, and pretty regularly hurt each other and cry out in pain; and the parents never do anything to stop them…even when they’re out in the yard with the kids. I guess they figure “at least they’re not screaming in the house”.
If I went running over there or called 911 every time one of those kids sounded like they were being killed, that’s all I’d ever have time to do in the summer and the police might just stop taking my calls.
The end result is that I don’t even notice it any more. Heck, the dogs hardly ever even bother to bark at them any more. An axe murderer could be over there systematically chopping those kids into little bits and it wouldn’t occur to me that there was a thing out of the ordinary going on.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve just come to expect kids to act like that in public these days…because their parents let them.
You addressed the next point partially in your post, but I don’t think you went far enough…I think we all know people who have kids that are actually their spouse’s from a previous marriage. I’ve personally witnessed on more than one occasion, those kids screaming exactly what that kid in the video was screaming…”you’re not my daddy(/mommy)” at times when the step-parent was trying to control or discipline them. Is this surprising in a society with a 50% divorce rate? Not to mention the children simply born out of wedlock.
As you mentioned, “You’re not my daddy!” is not the best thing to teach your kids to scream if something like that happens to them.
But even if the kid was screaming “Stranger!” or something like that: How many times have you seen bratty kids in public throwing tantrums exactly like the kid in that video was? Parent screaming “don’t ever run away from me again!” and the kid screaming bloody murder and fighting to get away.
How far out of the realm of possibility is it that the kid could be screaming “you’re not my daddy” or “stranger” just as a part of the tantrum?
And that brings me to, in my mind, the major factor – What would a child that age be doing out in public alone for some perfect stranger to abduct anyway?
Why WOULDN’T I assume that the person dragging them away was actually their parent…if not, where the heck IS the parent? I know MY kids were never on the street alone in a busy city at age 7.
That in itself might lead one to draw the conclusion that it wasn’t really an abduction, but rather just a spoiled, undisciplined, unruly child rebelling against her guardian.
And in today’s society, if you do take action and try to help the child…and it turns out that it was a case as described above…how long do you think it would be before the lawsuit was filed?
That’s absolutely going through people’s minds when they don’t get involved in something like that. They don’t know for sure what’s going on. It’s none of their business and everything in our society…from the way we’re conditioned not to do anything for ourselves, to the way parents raise their kids today, to the litigious society we’ve become…screams for us to just keep walking.
Yes, it’s a sad state of affairs that I’d like to see change. Yes, it scares the heck out of me as a person with three granddaughters about that age. Yes, I’d like to think that I’d have the foresight and fortitude to get involved if it happened around me.
But does the result of that “experiment” surprise me?
Not a bit.