Do People Really Not Care Essay

1232 words - 5 pages


Forty-six years after the rape and brutal murder of Kitty Genovese, the people of New York City are asking the same questions they asked in 1964. How could a man who did a good deed be left to die on the streets of the city and no one came to his aid? According to ABC News, some experts are saying this behavior is due to city living, or it is America’s desensitization to violence because of the overexposure to violent music, video games, Television, and movies. These deaths occurred forty-six years apart, but the lack of help and the indifference to these victims cannot be blamed on the media.

Kitty Genovese was a twenty-eight year old Italian American who ...view middle of the document...

In the scenario, where there were two students involved only 65% offered assistance. In contrast, when the students thought there were four or more students available to help, only 31% offered assistance. ( Darley and Latane called this type of behavior as the bystanders effect, also known as the diffusion of responsibility. (Latane, B. and Darley, J.M. 1968). Darley and Latane came up with five hurdles that may prevent people from helping in an emergency: 1) They are too busy and do not notice the emergency, 2) They don’t appreciate that there is an emergency, 3) They assume that other people will act 4) They don’t know what to do 5) They are afraid to act because of consequences: fear of retaliation, embarrassment, involvement in the legal process.

Now, let us look at what happened in 2010. Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax was a thirty-one year old homeless immigrant from Guatemala who died on a New York City street on Sunday April 18, 2010. He had fallen on hard times with the down turn of the world economy, was unable to find work as a day laborer, and had turned to drinking. Yet, when he observed a man attempting to mug a woman he stepped in to save her. Tale-Yax was stabbed several times and laid dying on the street. This incident was caught on tape and it showed at least twenty people passing Mr. Tale-Yax and not one offered to help. Some by passers stopped and looked, one even took a picture of the dying man, yet nobody called the police or 911.
Shara Sand, a New York psychologist referred to Mr. Tale-Yax death, as “Kitty Genovese all over again.” (Flam, L. AOL News 2010). I believe this case was much worse than the Genovese case, simply because most people carry a cell phone and could have called 911, even without stopping to help. As Mr. Solon, my Ethics teacher at Danville Area Community College pointed out; there was no 911 service in 1964. I don’t think the bystander effect can be used by itself as reason why people did not step in and help Mr. Tale-Yax. I view these people as just callous and selfish. When some of the witnesses were asked why they did not help this gentleman they gave reasons such as they were afraid, he looked homeless, a drunk, and he was a foreigner. None of these sound like a good reason not to call 911 to me. The reasons given why the Spanish population didn’t help one of their own was because they were afraid because most are illegal, and they did not want to get involved because of the fear of deportation.

Harold Takooshian, a psychology professor at Fordham University, who has also studied the bystanders effect noted that New York and many other states in America are not required by law to help others in need. (Sulzberg, A.G. New York Times, 2010). However, Scott Geller, a psychology...

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