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Blog Entry# 1926829  
Posted: Jul 12 2016 (01:44)

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Last Response: Jul 12 2016 (01:44)
  
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Commentary/Human InterestSR/Southern  -  
Jul 12 2016 (01:20)   Behind public apathy in violent crimes
 

rdb*^   124811 news posts
Entry# 1926829   News Entry# 273478         Tags   Past Edits
Why nobody came forward to stop or nab the killer of a young woman on a railway platform in Chennai.
Most stations on the Beach-Tambaram suburban railway line in Chennai are not expected to be crowded at quarter to seven in the morning. But during the fatal attack on Swathi, the young software professional, on the platform of the Nungambakkam station on the morning of June 24, 2016, it needed perhaps just one person to intervene and make a difference. That intervention might have prompted a couple of others to join in, and it is hard to see how the attack could have taken place as brazenly as it did, and how that young man could have got away as easily as
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he did on that fateful morning. But the sad truth is that no one did intervene. But what stopped them is the question that should trouble us.
There are at least two social phenomena and one physical syndrome behind the callous inaction. I am articulating these not to justify that inaction, but rather to understand the problem so we can address them.
The Bystander Effect
In 1964, in New York City, a young woman, Kitty Genovese, was stabbed and raped right outside her apartment. None of the neighbours stepped out in spite of hearing Kitty screaming desperately for more than ten minutes.
Social psychologists who studied what later became known as the ‘Bystander Effect’ or ‘Genovese Syndrome’, observed that “contrary to common expectations, larger numbers of bystanders decrease the likelihood that someone will step forward and help a victim.” That is the painful irony of the ‘Bystander Effect’.
The reasons include the reality that onlookers see that others are not helping either, that they believe others will know better how to help, and themselves feel uncertain about helping while others are only watching.
Diffusion of responsibility
When people behave as a group, the individual feels he is absolved of the repercussions of his action. There is a certain diffusion of responsibility that occurs. In my college days, I have seen boys who are otherwise known to be very quiet jump in with gusto to throw stones at the public, because of the anonymity provided by being part of a group. This is the ‘Mob Mentality’.
The opposite of this aggressive behaviour is an entire group choosing to be passive. This is consciously absolving the responsibility to take a moral or ethical stance. The larger the community the bigger is this irresponsibility. In big cities the majority is content to live an insulated existence, totally absorbed in issues relevant only to themselves and their immediate family. So when Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, he was hitting the proverbial nail painfully on our heads.
Fight of flee response
Sudden exposure to threat induces an adrenalin dump in the brain. This is to facilitate the immediate physical effort to fight or flee. But the reality is that many don’t fight or flee; they just freeze.
Tachypsychia is a neurological condition in human beings that alters the perception of time. It is usually induced by physical exertion, drug use, or a traumatic event. Some of the effects of Tachypsychia are tunnel vision, hearing impairment and loss of fine motor skills. The psychological response may range anywhere between denial and frustrated rage. Even soldiers and policemen are not immune to this sudden freeze of body and mind. That’s why training is repeated till the body develops the ‘Muscle Memory’ and is able to respond in an automated manner, without deliberation.
For untrained civilians, however brave and socially conscious they may be, to react quickly against a knife-wielding murderer is highly improbable. The sight of blood and gore will shock normal people and it may take a few minutes even to recover from that sensory overload.
What should be done to reduce such public apathy? Behavioral changes have to be initiated early when the mind is young, because later interventions will only be cosmetic. So we have to be prepared for the long haul, spanning across at least two generations, to see any perceptible change.
Especially in our diverse culture we have unique issues. The social values in India are highly skewed. For the young and susceptible minds, ‘personal morality’ is stressed upon while ‘social responsibility’ is hardly inculcated. In the mindless pursuit of percentages, subjects like Moral Science and Civics are discarded by the wayside. There is no conscious investment for productive progeny in today’s classrooms. This has to be corrected.
Aspects of self-defence
After the Swathi murder, many voices have clamoured for self-defence skills. Self-defence should go beyond the brief to inculcate ‘mental toughness’ along with ‘physical toughness’. At present, we are impressing upon the next generation to be aggressive only in a competitive context. The self-defence training should be extended to include exercises which develop Anger Management, Stress Control and Mental Resilience.
Moral values are impotent if they are not backed up by physical courage. Being physically tough without moral integrity will be even worse. So we have a dual responsibility.
(The author is an instructor of ‘KravMaga’, the Israeli self-defence system. He teaches close-quarter combat to Tamil Nadu Police commandos and prison warders, apart from civilians. E-mail: kravmaga.chennai@gmail.com)
Keywords: physical syndrome, Swathi murder case, Nungambakkam Railway Station

  
1594 views
Jul 12 2016 (01:44)
DhnEcr~   4059 blog posts
Re# 1926829-1            Tags   Past Edits
Useful article possibly gives us how people actually show little concern at time of any incident/accident but later make a great hue in form of demonstrations/jams etc
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