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The Silence Of Our Friends

By Ananya Manglik

When a stranger calls for help, will you listen? Will you do something about it? Or will you just be a bystander? When there are four or more people who are witnessing a crime, the statistics of at least one of them doing something is just 31%. Those are the bystanders: those who witness an emergency situation but do not do anything to stop it. The way I see it, bystanders who do not intervene are also at fault. A bystander who does not intervene also leaves an adverse impact on the victim, maybe even more than the bully does.

We are all drops in the ocean when compared to the world. But sometimes, that’s all a victim needs. One such victim, Kitty Genovese, could have been saved if even one bystander had spoken up. Kitty was brutally stabbed to death by Winston Moseley, then raped and robbed. One of Kitty’s neighbours saw the scene and called out for Moseley to “Leave the girl alone!” Kitty was empowered when she realized that someone had awoken and could see her, so she shouted for help. Moseley fled the scene in fear of being identified, without inflicting any fatal wounds- and a bystander saved an innocent girl’s life. But things did not stop there. Moseley returned ten minutes later and found Kitty lying barely conscious. She was stabbed 13 times, and according to reports, 37 people just watched as it happened. These bystanders were at fault because they did not intervene. Had they intervened, they could have succeeded in saving an innocent girl’s life. For Kitty Genovese, they could have been the ocean in one drop.

I consider bystanders culpable because they don’t recognize the victim’s need for validation. Without realizing it, they make things worse by not acknowledging what is happening right in front of their eyes. A bystander makes the victim feel disempowered and unable to use their voice. They justify the perpetrator’s actions by not helping. The injustice, anger and betrayal felt by the victim are unfathomable. Ruth Krug, a rape victim, stated, “Those who just stand by and allow violence to occur are not really just bystanders; they have inflicted lasting mental harm on the survivors. We will never forget their faces.”

It is arguable that a bystander’s culpability depends on the situation, as it is impossible to know whether a bystander’s action or inaction made the crime possible. Some will argue that a bystander intervening may even make a situation worse. We cannot objectively determine whether a bystander is wholly responsible for the crime committed, but they are still at fault. Despite the circumstances, bystanders always, always, have the responsibility to do the right thing. They will not make a situation worse, for it is already bad enough, but they will do something, for even a little goes a long way.

Just a phone call may save a life, or a yell to stop the perpetrator can have a lasting impact. In the words of Ruth Krug, “If he had said ‘no,’ after I said ‘no,’ how powerful would our voices have been together?” Bystanders who do not intervene are at fault because they are shirking their responsibility as a person to do what they can. They affect the victim beyond what the perpetrator inflicted by ignoring their need for validation, and even though we cannot incriminate them for something as serious as assisting in a murder, their actions had a lasting impact on the victim’s mental health. We cannot predict if a bystander would have stopped the perpetrator, but if they do not intervene the victims feel powerless, invisible, and betrayed.

“In the end, we remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” - James Preller.

By Ananya Manglik

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Geeta Kamble
Geeta Kamble
22 jun 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

This was a delight to read!😍

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