Bystander Effect

It was 2017 in the late afternoon. I was in 8th grade, it was the 3rd day of spring break. I was hanging out with some friends near my old school’s playground. We were all just chilling doing what kids normally do. Then all of the sudden, I see a gang of 16 kids attacking a kid. I didn't want stand there and watch a helpless kid get beaten up, so I intervened by telling them to stop. What happened next was a blur. I felt a sharp pain on the left side of my face. The world was spinning, everything was spinning, I felt more pain on my face and a group of people surrounding me. They were taking turn, swinging punches at me. When it felt like forever, they stopped and fled the scene. I was then escorted to my friend’s house, my face and shirt cover with stains of blood. After I was cleaned up, I realized that none of the other people around us helped, they just watched. I thought to myself: “Why were we the only ones helping the poor child? Why didn't they help out when we started to become the victim?” That when I became interested in the bystander effect. My goal is to learn why bystanders just watch something bad goes down when they can easily intervene to prevent something bad from happening. So I decided to investigate more about the bystanders effect in my “You & the World Project”.

This photo shows a bullying happening in front of these kids but they decided to go along with it and video tape it.

Many people have become victims to the bystanders effect each and everyday. Bullying happens in front of a crowd 88% of the time. Student do not like to see a bullying happen 90% of the time, but only 20% percent of the time people from that crowd actually take action to help stop it. Why is there only a low percentage of people help prevent bullying from happening, if almost everybody does not support what they see? Well for one thing, people fear of becoming the next victim. They don’t want the attacker targeting them and get harmed. Some bystanders actually join the bullying and making it worse. Some people would keep on encouraging it and with the digital age, we put it down on tape and posted it on social media.  People also think that it none of their business to engage and it not affecting them. People believe that they are powerless and have no idea what to do when trying to help someone out.

This graph (on slide 28) shows the percent of people who reacted to help assist someone when there an amount of people around them. As you can see, most people react when they are alone than others around them.

Bystanders can also be influenced by the number of people around the situation. People are more likely to intervene when there a few people to no one. But the more people their are, the less they are to intervene. When people don't react, other people think it is okay to do the same.


This line graph shows how the fewer the people around the person who needs aid, the more likely they will jump in and help them.

What I hope to learn as I dive deeper into this project is to understand what going on in the minds of bystanders. I want to interview people who have witness someone who needed aid but never did anything.  I want to know what they are thinking as they see this. I want to know why did they choose to either act or not act at all. Finally, I wanted to conduct a survey seeing how many people had recently been a bystander.  

Comments (1)

Jakob Cantor (Student 2021)
Jakob Cantor

I thought that this writing piece was strong. I am sorry this happened to you and I understand your connection to the topic. There were come small writing errors but otherwise the piece was good. My suggestion for an agent of change is maybe spreading the word and letting people know about the statistics. You are doing a good job and I am anxious to see your final piece. Good Luck!!