Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More on People Not Helping Accident Victims in China

In my previous post "People Not Helping Accident Victims in China" I shared the disturbing case of the little girl in Foshan who after being run over by a van was ignored by many passersby.  It's a darker topic, but I hope that discussion of it can serve a role in helping spur changes that may reduce such incidents in the future.  For more on the accident in Foshan and its significance in China see this post by Evan Osnos on The New Yorker.

In contrast to the previous post, I'll share some reactions of readers who I believe are all Americans.  I will refrain for now from commenting on them or attempting to answer any questions (one of which in particular I have little knowledge about) but I think they're worth sharing as they are informative or revealing of people's thoughts.  You're welcome to respond.

One reader wrote about a potentially relevant study and some of her personal thoughts:
This classic social psych study seems relevant if you haven't heard of it:

These were *seminary students* and many had just been primed to think about the good samaritan, and yet only 10% offered aid to the man in need when they were told they were late for their next appointment. The conclusions are about "haste", but I think a broader theme is simply that fear of inconvenience or trouble makes people less willing to help. If the Chinese government has created a situation where helping is so costly, then blaming the government might be more effective than blaming the passerby if it leads to productive legal reform. (Though really, I am perfectly willing to hate on everyone involved in that case and I hope they get shamed into oblivion.)

... That could be my child. I like to think that where I live this could never happen, because people here believe the police and emergency responders are here to help us, and because there are good samaritan laws. I also like to think people around here are brought up to care somewhat about others. Even if this third reason isn't true, I'll take the first two. :\
"The Reluctant Expat" wrote:
 As an American I am appalled at any person observing an accident and not stepping in to help. The incident you noted more than likely happened in a gang area where everyone shuts up and do not give police, yet the person who said that even making a 911 (emergency call) makes you 'involved' has to be highly uneducated. That is an untrue, stupid remark.

The article in Yahoo concerning the little girl made a statement about Chinese being afraid of being sued for helping another, "because his intervention broke government rules on dealing with accident victims." Is that true. Another person cannot help with accident victims and what does that entail? I am curious.
To which "Myra" replied:
Oh, response to The Reluctant Expat: No it's not the rule, however in the case of the little Foshan girl, according the the 'Rules" she should have been left there until the police arrived. BUT, no one in China follows rules about many things, and this was an atrocious lack of human decency and kindness. People should have helped.
"AC" provided this comment:
always scary to hear, not matter the society.
Maybe it is that good deeds are less newsworthy...or a dark way to put it is that as long as terrible cases such as this is deemed newsworthy it is a "positive sign" for the society as a whole that such acts are still considered deviant?
On that note, a reader brought my attention to a recent accident in the US state of Utah that was deemed newsworthy for the help offered to a motorcyclist who was entrapped under a burning car.  In light of the other recent news, I found it particularly inspiring.  I believe it shows how people anywhere possess an incredible potential to help others.

Here is what I believe to be the complete raw video footage (no sound) of the event.  I think it's worth watching as you can see how more and more people arrive to assist in a very dangerous situation.

There's also a video of a segment from The Early Show on CBS providing more commentary and including interviews with some of the people involved.  I can't embed it but you can find it here:

As I noted in the previous post, significant societal changes may be required to impact the degree to which some people are willing to help accident victims.  Whatever the case may be, I hope scenes such as the one in Utah can be inspirational to all -- whether in China, the US, or elsewhere.

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