The weather is getting so warm it already feels like summer! Now is a great time to get to the beach, hit the back yard, go for a hike, or enjoy some of your favorite activities under the sun. Officially summer will begin June 21st during the summer solstice, but even now the weather is beautiful in our home the sunshine state.
Today’s message is about the bystander effect! If you were in a situation where you needed someone around you to help you, which would you prefer? Would you rather have many people around you or only a select few? Naturally you might assume that it’s better to have more people around you and that there is safety in numbers. However, an interesting thing happens when there are many people witnessing something that makes them uncomfortable; we call this social diffusion of responsibility. Basically, the more people are around you, the more you’ll assume someone else will take care of the problem and you won’t have to. It’s kinda like when you encounter litter in a public space and you just assume you don’t need to pick it up because someone else will probably take care of it anyway. This phenomenon was first discovered after the murder of one Kitty Genovese. She was killed just outside of her apartment, but what’s most interesting is that over 30 people from her apartment building heard her. All of the neighbors had assumed one another would have already called the police, so no one was called until it was too late.
The bystander effect is one example of what we at Green Dot would call a barrier. Barriers are anything that make it hard for us to do the right thing in a difficult situation. Deep down I think the majority of us are good people, but sometimes it can be hard to do the right thing (especially if it involves strangers). Too often we assume social situations that involve other people are none of our business and we shouldn’t get involved. However, if a situation makes you uncomfortable, we think you should definitely get involved. Sometimes being a good bystander can be as easy as delegating to the right person. Whether it’s talking to the school counselor about the behavior of one of your classmates, or letting the resource officer on campus know about someone who’s been exhibiting violent tendencies.
No matter what your Green Dot, by getting involved you’re making it less likely that people in your community will get harmed. Big or small, together our good actions will add up to something great!