Emily Stone, a character who is featured in my first two published novels, Compulsion and Dead Game, is a woman who takes it upon herself to get involved and bring criminals to justice. She risks her own safety and, for the most part, any close relationships as she dedicates her life to tracking down the pedophiles and murderers who plague our neighborhoods.
Even though we may not have the talents or the courage to shadow criminals day and night as Emily does, I know that most of us hope that we would get involved, in some way, if we saw someone being threatened or hurt right in front of us.
This terrible hypothetical was brought to reality recently in China when a two-year-old girl was run over by a truck not once but twice and dozens of people walked by before one woman reached out to rescue the toddler. While she survived the event, doctors are saying that the girl is in a vegetative state.
Why didn’t someone step in right away to help pull this child to safety? There is mention of the “volunteer’s dilemma.” Multiple studies have shown that the people who are witness to a crime or suffering, the less likely they are to get involved individually. They assume that another bystander will help or that, if they tried to help, they would just get in the way of others more qualified. Another article mentioned that some people are afraid to get involved because they do not want to be blamed if something further was to go wrong.
Or, perhaps the simple truth is that we have become more callous and the sight of a little girl bleeding on a street isn’t affecting us the way it should. That’s the scariest possibility of them all, I think.
Have you ever witnessed an accident or a crime and noticed that people hesitated to get involved? Are there instances in which it is acceptable not to jump in and do what you can to help?
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Crime Watch Blog: www.emilystonecrimewatch.wordpress.com/
Book & Crime Talk: www.blogtalkradio.com/jennifer-chase/
Books: Compulsion = Dead Game = Silent Partner = Screenwriting