Dial 911 or Press Record

Sometimes there’s no fathoming the behaviour of people. Last week it was widely reported that onlookers did nothing to help a woman being raped to the point of unconsciousness on a Philadelphia train, choosing instead to record the crime on their cell phones. Maybe we’ve come to believe than the mere act of pressing record is an act of heroism. But the seeming lack of humanity shown by the train passengers may not be so unusual after all. Researchers have found that people’s willingness and inclination to offer help when witnessing a woman being attacked depends on many factors. While many cling to the notion of male chivalry, it’s women who are more likely to offer help to another women. The train incident seems to support research that says people who are alone are more likely to help someone in trouble than people who are amongst others. It’s true that a recording of a crime can be extremely valuable evidence in a courtroom, as we saw in the George Floyd murder case. And it’s often ill-advised for a bystander to insert themselves into a violent circumstance. But let’s not let our cellphones get in the way of our human instincts to help when we can.