Home » Society: Norms & Expectations » Would You Intervene?

Would You Intervene?

Picture the scene………………….

Your on your way home from the usual busy, and depressing day at work. As per your routine you wait for and then take the number 5 bus home. Sitting there daydreaming listening to your choice of MP3 player you think you can hear raised voices from behind you. As you turn around you witness the beginnings of a violent fracas; a young woman is being attacked by four other young people.

What will you do?

It is a moment everyone surely dreads; seeing the unbelievable happening right there, right then in public, and for you to bear witness to.

It is a moral dilemma; ignore it and ‘walk’ away or confront the situation, intervene and say ‘NO’!

After all it isn’t YOU they are harming, YOUR not under threat. It isn’t YOUR business, YOU have enough on your own plate. It could well be that young woman DESERVES those punches she is receiving.

What makes a person intervene or walk away?

Why is it when people are being attacked it is better to shout ‘fire’ to alert and raise the alarm to solicit help, then the actual words ‘help me please’!

‘Help’, does it always fall on deaf ears? Yet, not just the word help, but seeing that someone requires help; YOUR HELP.

Can we all so easily turn our backs on those who are being attacked, mugged, harassed  verbally abused, pushed and shoved or whatever??

Where did our solitary as human beings go? What happened to rob us of our outrage, of our sympathy, of our heart and souls?

When a herd of Buffalo are attacked by wolves, they will actually band together, regroup and turn on the aggressor, the threat that is hurting one of their own.

Yet us humans don’t often share their mentality.

We say that the ‘bad’ people of the world act like animals, no they don’t; because animals look after their own. Animals protect the vulnerable in their groups and fight back; not walk away.

Could it be then that humans alone are the exclusive owners of the ‘selfish gene’? We call this self preservation, it might be, but if you aren’t in mind to protect your own species, how then can it ever survive?

Yet, all is not lost.


There are some amongst us who will take the part of the guardian Angel’s in our time of need. Sometimes these Angel’s come in unexpected guises; elderly people walking past, teenagers sitting on a train, and even a young women walking her dog.

So, what makes some people not accept or tolerate others being harmed in their presence?

What is it that makes some people fight back and defend others they don’t even know; regardless of the danger it could pose to themselves?

What separates them from the rest of the herd????????

OPINIONS PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!! 

What do you think about intervening in a crime???


OR, maybe you wish you had??

PERHAPS, you or someone YOU know has been subject to a crime where no-one helped??????

What DO YOU THINK MAKES US react as we do to these extraordinary events????????

31 thoughts on “Would You Intervene?

  1. I think that the article is good representation of many people whom live in big cities.

    It happens to me once long time ago that three youngsters were bullying another young person sitting at the back of the bus.
    No one asked for help, but I went there and intervened.
    I left the bus with three punches on my face.

    I will do it again, if I have to.
    But next time I will not take on the punches.

    I think that every situation is different and it needs to be assess according to its circumstances.
    However there is a golden rule that might be applied to all of them :

    ” If I was that person would I like to be help? ”

    That is my opinion.

    Reading through some of the comments I came across this :

    ” It is interesting to note that domestic violence was what made up the violent crime statistics. Was anything doe to rectify this?? ”

    I thought that domestic violence was a crime…

    • Thank you for your comment, and input into this topic. I also appreciate you including your experience with intervention.

      Yes, I agree with the empathy you have stated regarding motivation for intervention; if you were them, or if it was you – would you want help.

      The reply you refer to was not made to dismiss domestic violence as a crime. Merely to ask if there had been a resolution. In most countries D.V is a crime at this moment, yet this has not always been the case, and perhaps still isn’t the case. For example in Madrid at the moment awareness is being raised on D.V. It is now being recognised as not just a ‘domestic affair’ to be dealt with between families. In the UK D.V is a crime, yet, even so the act itself isn’t always categorised as such (depending on many differences in people’s individual experiences, tolerances, acceptances and so on). Even though it is a crime it has not been stopped, prevented or even necessarily prosecuted once reported by the person at the receiving end of that crime.

      I hope this clarifies the position.

      Thanks again for you input.

      Bex 🙂

  2. You raise many questions … but yes, on occasion when decades younger I have intervened on a couple of occasions. Would I do so now? It depends entirely on the circumstances, now.

    I think most people wander through life in a semi-drugged state and never question the norm. When the norm suddenly/violently alters they are caught out.

    • Hi Argus,

      Thanks for response on this, and your input.

      I think that is true; people don’t expect the unexpected. They are not necessarily prepared, and consequently they may be shocked, confused and sacred when something does happen.

      Thanks also for adding your reaction in the past. Good to know some people would try to offer their help if required. I find it interesting to know what motivates such intervention within each person.

      Thanks again,
      Bex 🙂

  3. i find as a mother now i am more of a caring person. i would like to think if someone saw my children being hurt they would intervine. therefore i would always try and help anyone in need. i myself couldnt ingonr someone being hurt no matter how many people where there. i think peopls these days are scared to help others in need because of the fall back they may get.

    • Yep, this is true. People can want to help, because they empathise and think ‘if I was in that position I’d want help’. However, many people are too scared to help, for the reason you have stated; ‘fall back’. I think perhaps everything we know about society inhibits our responses, and makes us afraid in-case something happens to us and our families. It is a shame we cannot pull together, and act as one when we witness such crimes. There is always strength in numbers, yet usually on one person reacts, and helps.

      Thanks for your comment!!!!!!!
      Bex 🙂

  4. I have the physical abilities and the necessary training to take on 2 assailants, maybe 3 if I’m rushing to someone’s help and sucker-punch the strongest of the bunch; all of that under the assumption they are unarmed.

    And I would also do that. Actually, I did it rather recently in the pub in my home village while I was visiting my parents (drunken brawl, unilateral motivation)

    • OK, so from your response it seems you have no qualms in standing up and defend yourself and others, if needs be.

      I suppose being trained to be able to defend yourself provides you with a sense of confidence in such situations??

      Many people might try to do the same, if pushed into a corner. As you have stated too; it would never be a good decision to take on anyone with a weapon.

      Bex 🙂

      • Luckily, incidents like those are very rare in Germany. Wile I lived in Berlin, I had not a single altrucation, and the township I lived in was said to be one of the most violent places in Germany. But, if anyone cared to read the statistics, this referred to domestic violence, not street violence. The countryside I grew up in – well, let’s just say people learn to defend themselves at a young age; shortly after the Iron Curtain fell, there was a stark increase in unemployment in our area, and mostly young people started Neo-Nazi gangs, but they just harrassed anyone who wasn’t with them. And, they were often armed with knives and batons. After a particularly nasty incident – they had banded with gangs from the surrounding regions and beat the crap out 200 people from the fire brigade and the rifle club at our town fair – the police cracked down on right radical violence, and lots of people served time, the longest 5 years I think

        • Well, that is fortunate for you, and others living at that particular neighbourhood, that daily ‘brawls’ were not usual occurrences. Living that way, I.E, looking over your shoulder all the time, and expecting to have to be ready to fight at any time, can’t be a good thing for your body or mind.

          It is interesting to note that domestic violence was what made up the violent crime statistics. Was anything doe to rectify this??

          You have mentioned the Iron Curtain – can I ask, what was your opinion of life before this came down??

          It seems from what you have included in this comment that life has been quite violent; lots of violence being seen on a regular basis???

          Again, thank you for your candour on this topic. Including your own experiences, which have been interesting to read.

          Bex 🙂

          • When the Berlin Wall fell, I was only 4 years old, and the Iron Curtain wasn’t far behind, so I didn’t really know anything, or have any opinions. I did, however, befriend the Polish family that had moved to our village when i started school at the age of 6, and the “witch” family (anthroposophical), so I grew up sided with the outsiders, so the East Germans were my friends, too – everything that set me (and my siblings) in the crosshairs of the violent youth of our town.

            Thinking back, it was probably worst around my 10th year, when I was considered strong enough to defend myself, since most of the youngsters-without-a-perspective bullies were also at my school, only in classes 8-10, and some had repeated a class or two. I had a friend who defended me, though, not exactly smart, but strong and noble, who relished in fighting, which I didn’t then because of my tendency to lose. I also learned from him how to fight stronger opponents, since he is two years older than I am, and we regularly sparred with each other.

            Our ways parted when I left for a different school for higher education, but those who tried to bully me at my new school didn’t do it for long, and around that time, there was the large NeoNazi migration – to prison. Some were released when I was around 14, but by then, I was 6 foot tall and weighed 180 lbs, which made me safe from assault, because they were cowards, and put me in a position to defend others

          • Ah, OK so your memories of that time are limited.

            Yet, regardless of what might have been ‘expected’; regarding appropriate friendships, you chose to be who you were and not allow others to tell you who to be, or who to like. That is a rare thing being as young as you were, and at that age people are often influenced by other people’s opinions.

            It also seems that you had no choice but to learn to defend yourself and others. It was time, place and situation specific.

            Many people never experience what you have, so again, this could lend to different social beliefs or expectations regarding defending yourself.

            Many people are brought up to feel defending themselves physically is wrong, and then if an occasion arises where people must, they can’t.

            Also in most societies people are worried of repercussions from their peer groups, and the authorities. Even self defence has to proven.

            Thanks again for your input and continued candour. It is good to have someone who is willing to share such personal experiences.

            Bex 🙂

  5. Yes without a thought for myself. As a chil and even as I got older I would intervene when someone was being harassed by someone else. It’s just a natural part of my psyche to protect the helpless. That being said, Thor is my personal god and I’d be an awful worshipper if I chose not to protect those in danger. Part of my religions ethics are to protect and help those in need.

    • Thanks for you comment and input into this topic. It was interesting to note that you linked your religious beliefs in your response. This might be a contributing factor to why people choose to intervene rather than walk away. They feel they have a ‘moral’ obligation to help, which can be seen as a good thing for those in need.
      Thanks again,

  6. Reblogged this on The Musings of Lady Gwendolynn and commented:
    What do you think about intervening in a crime?
    A: Sometimes I think it depends upon the circumstances of the crime. If obviously you are outmatched, think of what the next possible course of action would be for you and the person in need. If it’s a life or death circumstance and both parties could die, makes a rescue attempt kind of moot. Thoughtful but moot. However, I do know there are people I’d give my life for and equally they would give theirs for mine in a heartbeat. So maybe I’d be that “Thoughtful moot” person, because in my mind it would be, “At least I tried. I did something and it wasn’t just standing there looking pretty”.

    9/10 times though, I’m certain I’d “act” if someone needed help, especially if they looked at me and even if they didn’t. My sense of justice and “Right vs. Wrong” is a little too high to tolerate any injustice taking place in front of my eyes. I can’t simply ignore it either. That’s just foolish.

    In my practice as a Priestess we always wait for the individual to come to us and say, “Will you help me? Please?” or “I need your help!” when asked, I act. Unless I have a very good reason for saying, “No; I’m sorry I can’t help you” my answer is typically a resounding, “Yes”. If I can’t help someone I find someone else I know who can or another solution. Helping people and doing the right thing is far more fulfilling to me as a Human Being and seems only right to boot. So again, if I can tell someone is in desperate need of help, like this, even if they don’t ask, I would help. PERIOD.

    A: I think it’s in my 1st answer but I’ll repeat – my strong sense of Justice and “Right vs. Wrong”, I believe, is too strong. I cannot stand idly by and do nothing while I know someone, even a complete stranger, is in need. It would go against everything I am and my core values NOT to act accordingly to the circumstances.

    OR – maybe you wish you had? See below Questions.
    PERHAPS, you or someone YOU know has been subject to a crime where no-one helped?
    A: I know friends have told me stories and I’ve heard stories in the news of how people stood by and thought, “It’s not my business. I’m not getting involved”. Like a woman who was going for a jog in Central Park in NY who got raped, in broad daylight with bystanders. Really? How could you NOT help in that instance?! That’s just B.S.! There’s NO absolutely NO excuse NOT to act in my opinion in a situation like this. Maybe the SICK bystanders just wanted to “watch”. Maybe some even enjoyed it or were too horrified and in shock. I’ve no idea.

    Point again is, there’s no excuse for doing NOTHING in situations like this in my book. And stories regarding friends? You BET I wish I could have been there in the situations they told me about – to help. All I can do now is hug them and tell them “I wish I could have been there. I’d have fought for you”. That sucks. If the person isn’t worth fighting for – don’t fight for just them, fight for the DECENCY of it all. For the HUMANITY of it all! Not some selfish excuse or idea! GODS!

    Can you tell this gets on my nerves and that I’m Passionate about this at all? XD

    What DO YOU THINK MAKES US react as we do to these extraordinary events?
    A: I think many people are just too scared, afraid, fearful, in doubt to get involved in some circumstances. I could be sued; what if someone thinks I’m at fault; how long would the Cops detain me for questioning; I can’t afford to get hurt right now. There are simply too many EXCUSES people can/could make in order to see themselves NOT get involved when people need them or at least their help, the most. So many crimes and horrible circumstances could have been helped, healed or avoided altogether if people just kept in touch with their sense of “Right and Wrong” and their Humanity.

    The lack of wanting to help others makes me think people are even LESS in touch with their Humanity than they should be. I have no idea why this might be – but it may be because of false ideals that have been perpetuated in our society, technology (loss of a sense of reality, become distant I’d think even too, perhaps indifferent) or something else entirely. I don’t know. That’s an answer I don’t have. I wish I did. :/

  7. yes, absolutely. but not necessarily by rushing in – after all, if its someone with a gun or a knife you would be going up against – and you have no way of using force against the aggressor, then don’t run in the middle yelling ‘stop’.

    if you are strong enough to use force to defend the innocent – then you should. other wise maybe just yelling ‘stop’ from a distance might help, getting the attacker to bolt. if you can do nothing else – at least get some help by calling the police.

    the only absolute is to not stand by assuming someone else will do something – take action on your own.

    • Hi Lee,
      Thank you for adding your opinion to this topic. I appreciate you also stopping by my blog.

      I also would not advocate anyone rushing in against a person brandishing a weapon. In these cases I would merely hope that anyone or the people witnessing such a crime would act to raise the alarm.

      Sometimes just by merely yelling ‘stop’ (as you have stated), it perhaps could have an effect. It is a stand in a way against any aggressor, making them realise they aren’t being provided some silent free pass to do as they please. People around have noticed them, and will take action; whether by intervention physically, verbally or by raising the alarm.

      Agreed, no point assuming someone else will take action; every individual is responsible to ensure they do what they can in that situation (even if that is by calling the police).

      Thanks again. Hope you will drop by my blog again soon.


  8. Pingback: Please address this #Question! Would You #Intervene? The Savvy Senorita « johndwmacdonald

  9. I can only imagine that the people who do turn around and react are ones who impulsively follow their instincts. That’s not me, as much as I’d like to be able to help someone; I need time to contemplate various scenarios before making a decision.

    Sadly, I think there are plenty of people who’ve been subjected to crimes and suffering in silence, where their cries remain unheard.

    • Well, everyone is different in society. Not everyone can act, but there maybe reasons for not acting (other than merely not caring). I understand there would be reticence.

      Yet, what makes me angry are that incidents can occur where no weapons are being used, but multiple people, 10 plus, will just sit by and continue to watch without all banding together and stopping it. In numbers we are stronger; the aggressors are in numbers, but the witnesses are also (yet they don’t intervene). They don’t act, because they are waiting for another person to do so; deferring responsibility to the person sitting next to them. Instead, they could all get up as one unit and say; ‘Stop it’!

      One person acting alone can be hard, but a group acting as one; it is solidarity. Then perhaps, less crimes like these would occur. As there would be well known knowledge that they won’t be tolerated, and people won’t be intimidated to not intervene. They will react as one!

  10. The general rule is, ‘If it’s not worth dying for it’s not worth fighting for.’ Having said that it’s a very personal decision, and there are no right or wrong answers as to what’s worth dying for and what’s not. There are sheep and sheep dogs in the world and we should all be very grateful for the sheep dogs out there, those who are willing to risk their life to help strangers in need.

    • Hi Malcolm, thanks very much for your considered response; much appreciate your input on this topic.

      Yes, it is true that every individual will decide by natural evaluation if intervention is necessary or worth the risk.

      Your analogy of the sheep and sheep dog is quite true. It does take some courage to perhaps stand up and break away from the herd; to do what an individual feels they must. I think we should all be grateful to the sheep dogs of this world, as without them there the world would be a darker place I think.

  11. While the need for self preservation runs very high in us, in the sense that you think about yourself, your family etc. All this in a matter of seconds as you assess the situation and your harm level. For me it would be hard as I would most likely try to find someone or thing to aid in my attempt to help knowing that I may become injured or killed. In essence it would be hard for me to walk away even if that person deserved it. Why? Because I would want someone to come to my aid/rescue.

    • Hi Valarie, many thanks for stopping by my blog. I appreciate your comments, and input on this topic.

      Yes, I agree with you what you have stated. I would feel the same way, but would want to act in a strangers defence as I couldn’t walk away with such things on my conscience (knowing I could have at least tried to help). Indeed, I also hope someone would help me too, if I required assistance.

      Thanks again, and hopefully you’ll stop by my blog again.

      Bex 🙂

  12. I won´t venture in answering if it´s right or wrong to intervene.

    I will just ask yourself this more important question:

    How come you “happened” to be there in the first place, witnessing this uncommon situation?

    • Surely you must have an opinion on intervention Julien??

      Well, there cannot be a complete answer to your question; who knows how people end up witnessing such situations. That could be due to many differing issues and factors conspiring to then place a person at that moment in time.

      Perhaps you have thoughts on this you would like to share???

  13. I think everyone should perform its duty honestly. Law and order authorities are supposed to deal with those types of situations but surely we should contribute as much as we could do.

Leave me your comments please, you know you want to!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s