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article imageVideo highlights ‘bystander effect’ in bullying situations

By Justin King     Feb 4, 2014 in Lifestyle
As America’s bullying crisis reaches epidemic proportions, an unorthodox social experiment captured on video has highlighted one of the main problems in tackling the issue. The video has averaged over 88,000 views per day for the last two months.
Today an 11-year-old boy in North Carolina attempted suicide after apparently being bullied, and a report yesterday in the Kansas City Star stated that bullying is increasing as a problem in homes for senior citizens.
The viral video shows the reactions of people on a university campus when a bullying incident occurs directly in front of them. While there are some people that came to the aid of the victim, most simply walked on pretending not to notice the victim’s cries for help.
The video was put out by fouseyTube, a channel on YouTube known more for its pranks than its social commentary. However, the video confirms and plainly demonstrates what psychologists have known for decades: people are more likely to look the other way when not personally involved in an emergency situation than they are to intervene.
The face behind fouseyTube is Yousef Saleh Erakat, known affectionately by his fans as “Fousey,” is of Palestinian descent and headlined a Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights event last weekend in Montreal. Fousey plays the bully in the above video.
No one raindrop thinks it caused the flood
The “bystander effect” is believed to be primarily caused by what is referred to as a “diffusion of responsibility,” which could be defined as one's unwillingness to take personal responsibility for their own actions. When an event is witnessed by a group of people they each believe one of the other people will intervene. The larger the group, the less likely anyone will intervene. Psychologists believe that bystanders often look to other people to help make sense of what is happening around them. When every member of the group is seeking guidance from another, nobody acts.
These two phenomena have been given the bulk of the blame for history’s worst atrocities. The Nazi atrocities, deaths that occur during Black Friday shopping, and the murder of Kitty Genovese have all been attributed to what psychologists believe is an innate human condition.
This year’s statistics state that one out of four students are regularly bullied at school. Despite the constant barrage of anti-bullying campaigns, most teens believe they have seen violence increase at their schools.
More about Bullying, YouTube, bystander effect, diffusion of responsibility, Bully
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