Would You Help?


For my regular readers this post is quite different than what I usually write but I have had a lot of thought about the subject and decided that I needed to write about it.

There’s been a high profile trial in my state which some of you may have heard about in which the defendant, George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.  Zimmerman’s contention is that he shot the man in self defense as he feared for his life.  Witness testimony does demonstrate that he was on the ground and someone was straddling him and beating him.  Witnesses also heard repeated screams for help but could not determine with any certainty who was screaming.  The 911 emergency call does record someone screaming for help over and over again.  It is clear in the call that someone is in trouble.  In this case, several people heard the screams (some saw vague images and others only heard the screams) but none attempted to intervene.  One wanted to intervene but his wife prevented him from doing so.

While I don’t want to debate any of the facts or evidence in this specific trial, the trial itself raised a question in my mind. Specifically, this case got me wondering about what degree would people allow themselves to get involved in a conflict between two other people that they did not know.  Another thought was that if someone had helped, would Trayvon be alive today.  No one really wants to be around violence but sometimes it does happen whether you want it to or not.

If you saw two people fighting (neither of them being George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin) in a serious and similar manner and one was screaming for help, would you try to intervene and help them?  Would you call 911 emergency?  Would you keep an eye on the situation to see what transpires next? Would you try to just get away as quickly as possible?

I posed these questions to my husband and he said that he would hesitate to get involved because he didn’t know the situation between these people and would not know if any of them were armed or not but he would certainly call the police.  When I asked him if the situation was slightly different, let’s say if he was with another person rather than alone, would that change whether or not he would intervene?  He said that he would be more willing to help if he had the back up of another person.

I then posed a completely different scenario and asked what if the person on the bottom was a woman? To which he replied that he would be more inclined to help a woman, but even then he really wouldn’t know what he was getting involved in and would be cautious in making that decision.

When I asked if the person was a child?  His answer was an emphatic yes… he would intervene.

There was a time when people freely helped others in trouble but as we hear about more and more violent crimes and activities I wonder if a person in trouble has any reasonable expectation of getting help from anyone except the police.

So, I pose these questions to all you men out there as I feel you would be more inclined to intervene than women would but if there are any women out there who have a strong opinion on this, I’d love to here from you too.

Would you intervene in a physical conflict if you heard a man screaming over and over again for help?

Would you react differently if you were not alone when the conflict occurred?

Would you react differently if it was a woman?

How about a child?

If you wouldn’t intervene, I’d love to hear why not as well.