In NY - Upsetting Case Involving "Bystander Effect." Comments?

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  1. mythbuster profile image73
    mythbusterposted 12 years ago

    On April 18 2010 a 31 year old man (Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax) was stabbed around 7:20 am. He was helping a woman who was threatened by a man with a knife. Tale-Yax chased after the man, distracting him from the woman - actions which showed up on surveillance cameras in the area. Tale-Yax chased the attacker for a bit then collapsed on the sidewalk.

    Apparently, this Good Samaritan lay for over an hour on the sidewalk with more than 25 persons simply walking by and doing nothing to help him.

    By the time paramedics got to Tale-Yax, he was dead.

    In a CBC News article, … z0mGDdwyeA 

    the phenomenon of "Bystander Effect" is mentioned, along with a short summary of the 1964 Kitty Genovese (1964) example where bystander effect was partially responsible for Genovese's death. Neighbors in the Genovese case had been aware of a brutal night time attack on Genovese (she screamed, her screams awakened many who would not come forth to her aid - not even to phone the police from within the safety of their own apartments) - in the Kew Garden area of Queens NY. No neighbors assisted her even once her attacker fled, leaving Genovese to basically lay there bleeding with no medical aid.

    With "Bystander Effect" people generally assume that someone else will act to provide assistance...but with everyone thinking the same and assuming the same about each other, nobody ends up acting at all.

    In the recent NY incident, apparently authorities are still looking for the woman that Tale-Yax was trying to assist and the attacker is still at large, too.

    I know this is a long opening post, however - now the question(s)...

    Do you think we can condition ourselves to RESPOND to situations that require for helping another person - even if a violent action has just taken place? Can we overcome this bystander effect?

    (ie: self-defense TRAINING helps to condition against the mind's natural response to "panic" in scary situations - and start the mind/body reacting with practiced self-defense motions - but very few individuals actually go and engage in this training)

    1. LarasMama profile image60
      LarasMamaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I'd hope that this wouldn't happen in my town - there's only 100,000 people - and I've seen people help a strange who tripped or was injured before.

      I think it's disgraceful not to call emergency, at least.

  2. mythbuster profile image73
    mythbusterposted 12 years ago

    But would you feel you'd know what to do in a similar situation, LarasMama?

    I would hope something similar would never happen in your hometown, either.

    Apparently, too - bystander effect gets WORSE the higher the number of people gets...that is, the more people witnessing an event together - where there are uncertainties about who should take action - the worse the feelings are about not taking action. And the stronger the assumption that someone else WILL do something about whatever's going on.

    1. LarasMama profile image60
      LarasMamaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Hmmm... honestly I don't know. I'd hope I would, having been the victim of crime myself.

  3. Pandoras Box profile image59
    Pandoras Boxposted 12 years ago

    Wow. Conditioning human responses back into us.

    1. mythbuster profile image73
      mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Is that what you think I've described? I will think on this one. Good point - short - but a 'thinker' one here.

      Thank you.

  4. profile image0
    Poppa Bluesposted 12 years ago

    I think it has more to do with the litigation effect. No good deed goes unpunished.

    1. profile image0
      kimberlyslyricsposted 12 years agoin reply to this


      1. mythbuster profile image73
        mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Sometimes no bad deed goes punished, too, Poppa Blues lol Things are kinda messed up sometimes, eh? Point taken.

        Hi kimberlyeslyrics - nice smiley!

  5. h.a.borcich profile image60
    h.a.borcichposted 12 years ago

    In a situation where I have witnessed accidents/injuries I know I can dial 911 and give aid, but I have not been present during a crime or attack. As much as I would like to think I would act, I don't know that I wouldn't panic and freeze. If learning self-defense ups my odds I will look into it.
    I think many are desensitized that attacks/crimes are real. Too many movies have dump loads of violence and the video games with violence are "just games". Also we are very disconnected from people and we behave less personally. Not a good way to be. Holly

  6. profile image0
    PrettyPantherposted 12 years ago

    I learned about the bystander effect when I was in college, and in the few times I have been in a position to help a stranger, it was in the back of my mind.  So, to answer your question, I think just knowing that if you don't act maybe no one else will is enough for some people to take the initiative to at least call 911.

    1. mythbuster profile image73
      mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I like this answer!

  7. profile image0
    Poppa Bluesposted 12 years ago

    If any of you have been to NY you would realize that homeless people laying in the street, on benches and in the subway is not uncommon. It's a big city with a lot of people most in a hurry to get from one place to another. Most wouldn't think twice to walk around someone laying in the street. I'll bet many didn't realize the man was hurt. What really bothers me though is the victim that the man helped did nothing! She has not as yet been found. I don't know how she can sleep at night after having walked away from this man that probably saved her life!

    1. rebekahELLE profile image86
      rebekahELLEposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      very true. people get used to seeing that.

    2. mythbuster profile image73
      mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Hi Poppa Blues - I've never been to NY, so thanks for your explanation of what NY people might experience in this situation or in a hectic busy lifestyle over in NY...

      I worry that the lady who was being attacked is afraid to come forward...she probably feels really guilty about staying silent, feels bad that someone died over this whole incident.

      I hope the woman is okay. I haven't been thorough in my viewing of news media yet today but it's almost suppertime where I'm at so hopefully the early evening news has a positive update on this issue.

  8. rebekahELLE profile image86
    rebekahELLEposted 12 years ago

    it doesn't sound like it was just bystander effect. it's ny, they don't even look where they're walking, always rushed.

    I don't think I could walk past someone laying on a sidewalk and do nothing. shameful that no 911 call was made.. really kind of hard to believe.

  9. Rafini profile image74
    Rafiniposted 12 years ago

    I think the world needs to return to the Public Service Announcement methods to increase awareness of this issue.  Where I live we have a commercial that goes something like this:

    a street full of houses using all kinds of electricity, tv's on, stereos blasting, lights on, microwave in use, etc...the lights go out due to lightning (or whatever), voices are heard from all the houses....

    Gee, I wonder if someone's calling the electric company...

    do you think it would be effective to deter the bystander effect?  I do...

    1. mythbuster profile image73
      mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Hey Rafini, got a name for this public service announcement? I'd like to see the actual commercial - I'll look online for it. Sounds interesting but I'd like to see the actual graphic images, etc. Is it connected with a particular electric company, power/energy entity that I can look up online?

  10. profile image61
    logic,commonsenseposted 12 years ago

    One of the biggest problems the world faces is the 'herd' mentality!  When more people learn to think for themselves they will act accordingly.  Until then many will suffer the same fate!

    1. profile image0
      Poppa Bluesposted 12 years agoin reply to this … amp;sr=8-2

      The author here claims that in any given emergency situation, 10% of people will do the exact wrong thing and 80% of the people will wait for someone in authority to tell them what to do and the other 10% will act to survive! You'll never get rid of the herd mentality.

      1. profile image61
        logic,commonsenseposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        You may be right, but that does not mean I have to be a part of it.  Never have been, so probably won't start now!

        1. mythbuster profile image73
          mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          I like this answer too. Just because current studies show that people do or do not react appropriately - to me - just means that there are now indicators for what people are usually doing in these situations. It's a study...observations of what's happening currently or what has happened, generally, in the recent past...but don't we all have the ability to make changes and prompt ourselves to think better on our feet about situations in the future?

    2. mythbuster profile image73
      mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Sometimes, with bystander effect, many people feel they are not qualified to help but that others in a crowd know the right things to do and are more capable of helping...

      I think this adds to the guilt that people feel after an event like this - and that there is way less "apathy" than most people imagine in these situations.

      I think the explanation "nobody cares so they just walk by" is only the case for a few people in a situation like this.

      But then, that's my personal opinion. I do feel worried that there are a large number of the 25 people who walked by - who might be very upset with themselves for not responding to help the "Good Samaritan."

    3. mythbuster profile image73
      mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Good point! "Thinking" instead of reacting is what you mean, right?

  11. Greek One profile image63
    Greek Oneposted 12 years ago

    just the other day here in my city an old man in his 70s was robbed in a subway with 20 people looking on doing nothing.

    If it is a fight between two gang members or something of that nature, i wouldn't get physically involved (i would sound the alarm, thouhgh)... but if it an old man or a woman getting the beats.. it's hammer time!

    1. Uninvited Writer profile image77
      Uninvited Writerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Yes, they have a bar you can press on the Toronto subway for help. No excuse not to.

      1. mythbuster profile image73
        mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Even considering pushing a button like you've mentioned - seems to put some people in a dilemma sometimes:

        ie: "should I push the button and call for help?" "will someone else call for help?" "is this situation really an emergency?"

        I hope people will start feeling more and more that they can use services and safety/emergency devices that are out in public.

        1. Uninvited Writer profile image77
          Uninvited Writerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          You'd think with everyone it seems carrying a cell phone that someone could have called 911, quietly

          1. mythbuster profile image73
            mythbusterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            I agree, UW - cell phones, security intercom systems in urban areas, "push me to call for help" buttons around transit, airports, etc... puzzling.

  12. sunforged profile image73
    sunforgedposted 12 years ago

    I was at one point a trained lifeguard (as in certified and paid)

    Last year while swimming at a local (non-supervised) swimming spot, I had to run nearly 50 yards, pushing by a least 30 people who were much closer in order to get to a girl who was less than 15 feet from the shore, in water that was no more than 9 feet deep.

    Any one of those people, most of them large football player types could have easily reached the girl with minimal effort, yet no one reacted - just dumb stares.

    This story doesnt surprise me one little bit. There is something to be said about the callous one gets in the streets of NYC to the site of someone laying on the sidewalk. If there wasnt a pool of blood - then, it would be no more out of the ordinary then a discarded mcdonalds wrapper


    1. profile image0
      woolman60posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      This was taken from the article,

      “Most ignored him. Some stared at him lying on the sidewalk, video showed. One person even took a picture with his cell phone. Another man rolled him over, exposing his bloody stab wounds, but then he walked away”.

      He walked away, what was this guy thinking, how could you ignore someone’s need for help? What has this country turned into, people who don’t give a damn for another human being life, a person who possibly saved another human life and she was a victim of violence, and then he becomes the victim, stabbed because he helped her, and then without any remorse from everyday human beings; who just looked and walked away, and let this man die. Where has the compassion and humanity gone in America today?

      Start spreadin' the news, I'm leavin' today
      I don’t want to be a part of it, New York, New York

  13. mythbuster profile image73
    mythbusterposted 12 years ago

    Here's another report. On the cbsnews site, CrimeSider section, there's a video shown...a portion of the surveillance video that filmed the incident and the people walking past Tale-Yax as he lay on the sidewalk, very visible - not like he fell down behind something, out of sight... … 04083.html

    I think the announcer in the video is Mary Calvi - and at the end of the report, she says that by airing the surveillance clips, authorities hope someone will come forward to explain more about this incident...


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