Safety Tips for Women

Bystander Apathy is also known as "bystander effect" or the "Kitty Genovese Syndrome." Here's how to avoid it when YOU desperately need help.

A patient with a knife attacked a doctor in Boston. An off-duty security guard came to his rescue by shooting the assailant and saved the doctor’s life.

A 15-year-old girl in California was gang-raped by four men. 20 teen witnesses did nothing to help as they watched and used cell phones to take pictures and video of the rape.

The incidents above are just two of many thousands of bystander events every year - too few involving heroes and too many involving callous witnesses. Primarily, in Boston it was a heroic security guard; in California it was callous teens. And yes, the apathy of those teens should be penalized somehow – perhaps with misdemeanor "failure to report a crime" or "gross indifference to human suffering" or some such charge. At the very least, they’d be publicly named and shamed.

The Deplorable "No Snitch" Phenomenon

Then there’s the widespread nationwide dilemma of the thugs with their "no-snitch" menace who command a code of silence to preserve their freedom. They exploit the law that requires witnesses to be named in court documents. The accused gangsters’ cohorts can then easily intimidate the witnesses (and their families) into silence. Witness protection programs do little to alleviate the Bystander Effect.

But there’s also a new twist on the nationwide CrimeStoppers tip program that just might help with the “no-snitch” problem. The Boston police department strongly promotes cellphone texting for crime tips. Since the program began two years ago, police have received more than 1,000 tips.

How to avoid Bystander Apathy

All the above is after the fact and doesn't help when you're up to your eyeballs in trouble.

  • Look directly at a bystander and order him/her to "Call the police!"
  • Order another bystander to "Remember his/her description!"

Learn more about how to avoid the bystander effect at:

Enhancing Your Self Defense

Deter a predator by holding Pepper Spray & a Personal Security Alarm (noisemaker or screamer) in plain sight. And those pages show how to use them most effectively.

Crime-Safety-Security > Newsletter Archive > Bystander Apathy

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