A Jo Hartley Production Blog Site

Would you turn the other cheek?

on March 25, 2014

It’s a sorry state of affairs when a social experiment set up to investigate how many people would stop to help a child backfires isn’t it? But are we really that surprised? After all, isn’t it really only a reflection of society today and how our obsession with looking for the bad in everyone has manifested? Our quick judgement of all strangers has meant that even the good and genuine people of the world are now preferring to stick to the safe path in life, choosing to turn a blind eye to a situation they fear may end up to be more hassle than they deem it worth.

The social experiment which was set up in a busy UK shopping centre saw two little girls pretending to be lost, a scenario that is without doubt every parent’s worst nightmare. The girls, aged seven and five, stood looking for ‘help’, one clutching her toy rabbit whilst desperately
trying to make eye contact with passers by, the other kneeling on the floor and sucking her thumb. Despite being there for a whole hour,only one person out of a possible 616 stopped to ask if they were ok, a figure which is startling enough in itself but even more so when considering that a lot of the passers by were parents themselves.

Naturally, the outcome of this experiment has caused outrage and shock from the NSPCC in the UK who have since called on members of the public to reach out and step in if they see a youngster looking lost. The message that they want to get across is that the wellbeing and safety of a child should be more important to every adult than the fear of being labelled as ‘stranger danger’.

But, sadly, it’s stranger danger labeling and the finger pointing associated with that which is exactly why people don’t want to get involved, and it isn’t hard to understand why. People are loathe to put themselves in a situation which they, ultimately, may not be able to control the outcome of. People don’t want to be judged or branded and the option to walk away is much more appealing to most. After all, there are no repercussions associated with walking away, other than a small pang of guilt of course for the more compassionate amongst us.

When I think about this from a completely objective point of view, I am not surprised at all by the outcome of this social experiment, and nor am I judgemental of those who didn’t stop to offer help. However, when I take my objective hat off and swap it for my Mum hat, I want to cry.

I imagine my three year old son lost in the middle of a busy shopping centre and it breaks my heart. I imagine him clutching his blanket and sucking his thumb for comfort, whilst frantically searching the crowds for my face amongst the throng. I imagine the fear and confusion he must be feeling and I envisage these emotions brought to life in the tears rolling down his plump pink cheeks as he cries out my name over and over. And what do I imagine and hope for? For everyone to walk past and ignore him? Of course not! All I can think of is please someone help him. Please someone stop and ask him his name. Please someone ask if he is ok, if he has lost his Mummy, and if he needs help. But, above all, I think please, please, please don’t walk on by or turn the other cheek. For, when it comes to my own son, that for me would be the biggest crime.

You can read the UK article here;

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One response to “Would you turn the other cheek?

  1. omg that IS terrible! Whenever I see kids who look lost I usually hang around and see if mum or dad is close by. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually helped a lost child, but when I’m in the shops and hear a child calling for his parents or a parent calling a child’s name, my natural instinct is to help immediately. I’ve lost my 5 year old 3 times – once was at a water park recently and it is the worst feeling in the world. I wanted everyone in the park to stop what they were doing and find my son! The stranger danger or being “suspicious” never even crossed my mind! :/

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