Here’s a reason to feel cheerful – the world is full of Good Samaritans

good coffee

(Nathan Lemon, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Formative Content

While some cities are experimenting with smart ways to tackle crime, a new study has found a more old-fashioned method is still proving effective in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and South Africa.

Citizens are stepping in to help victims and see off those who start fights in public, according to researchers, who studied hours of CCTV footage from inner-city areas in Lancaster, Amsterdam and Cape Town.

In 91% of cases, at least one bystander intervened to break up an aggressive argument or assault by either blocking or pulling the aggressor away, gesturing for them to calm down, or consoling the victim.

Image: Lancaster University

Psychologist and the study’s lead author, Dr Richard Philpot, said the team’s findings overturned the conventional wisdom that, in emergencies, bystanders do nothing.

“The fact that bystanders are much more active than we think is a positive and reassuring story for potential victims of violence and the public as a whole. We need to develop crime prevention efforts which build on the willingness of bystanders to intervene.”

The ‘bystander effect’

The study looked at 219 video recordings of arguments and assaults and found that, contrary to the “bystander effect” theory – which suggests people are less likely to step in to help if others are present – victims were actually more likely to be helped when there were more bystanders present.

Rates of intervention were the same across all three cities, even though Cape Town’s inner city was perceived to be less safe.

The researchers concluded: “We argue that it is time for psychology to change the narrative away from an absence of help and toward a new understanding of what makes intervention successful or unsuccessful.”

The global picture

The differences in the definitions of specific crimes, the level of reporting, and other social and economic factors make gauging global levels of violent crimedifficult. For this reason, homicide rates are often considered among the most reliable indicators of long-term trends in violence.

The global homicide rate, measured as victims per 100,000 people, fell from 7.2 in 1992, to 6.1 in 2017, according to the UN’s latest Global Study on Homicide. This is in part due to population growth rising faster than the reporting of these crimes.

There are also big regional variations, with the rate in the Americas in 2017 (17.2) being the highest recorded in the region since reliable records began in 1990. Rates in Asia, Europe and Oceania were below the global average.

Finding solutions

While many will welcome the news that people are willing to step in to help victims, governments and authorities are under pressure to find concrete ways to tackle the problem and prevent crimes from happening.

Measures such as increased police powers, funding to support victims and strategies designed to steer young people away from crime have been announced by the UK government, for example.

The World Health Organization says addressing the issue on multiple levels in many sectors of society is required – including creating healthy family environments, solving problems in schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods, and tackling wealth inequality.

And some are suggesting looking at violent crime in a different way altogether. The charity Cure Violence is working to try to stop the spread of violence by using methods usually associated with disease control. Its model has been used in cities around the world, from New York and Chicago, to San Pedro Sula in Honduras and Cape Town.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

European Union presents its progress towards sustainable development

The ephemerality of the public-private health boundary

These islands are using tourists to help offset the effects of tourism

Falsified medicines: new rules to enhance patients’ safety

Banning caged farming in the EU: Hearing on the European Citizens’ Initiative

MWC 2016 LIVE: Freemium MVNO model a success, claims FreedomPop head

Draghi: ECB to flood Eurozone and the world with more zero cost money; risk of drowning in cash

Why the ECB prepares to flood the markets with more and free of charge euro; everybody needs that now

ECOFIN: Choosing between the re-unification of Eurozone and a stalemate

The Syrian knot cannot be cut without devastating consequences

UN highlights importance of skills development on World Youth Skills Day

More progress needed on reducing and redesigning agricultural support policies

Commission unveils its first Strategic Foresight Report: charting the course towards a more resilient Europe

Should trade continue to be global after the pandemic?

What is the IMF telling Eurozone about fiscal and banking unification?

Resettlement needs set to rise to 1.4 million people in 2019, UN refugee agency reports

ECB to buy corporate bonds: Will government financing be the next step?

Humans aren’t made for repetition – it’s time AI took over manufacturing

Apple’s tax avoidance scheme remains as creative as their new iPhone

Global South cooperation ‘vital’ to climate change fight, development, Guterres tells historic Buenos Aires summit

Income inequality threatens the socio-political structures in developed countries

This AI outperformed 20 corporate lawyers at legal work

From cheeseburgers to coral reefs, the science of decision-making can change the world

#TwitterisblockedinTurkey and so is Erdogan

Coronavirus: rescEU masks delivered to Spain, Italy and Croatia

EU Strategy on COVID-19 vaccines must guarantee safety and accessibility for all

EU-US ties to break over Iran; Democrats’ electoral win may not change it

Fight against money laundering and terrorist financing: Commission assesses risks and calls for better implementation of the rules

Bulgaria: MEPs call for EU values to be fully and unconditionally respected

Redistribution of seats in the European Parliament after Brexit

Writing a new story in gender inequalities: women gaining space and respect in medicine

This man swam under the East Antarctic ice sheet to highlight the impact of climate change

To achieve net-zero carbon cities and buildings we need systemic efficiency

The world wide web is 30 years old. What better time to fight for its future?

Can we balance conservation and development? Science says yes

OECD Donor countries need to reform development finance to meet 2030 pledge

A vaccination race between nations can have no winners

SRHR the indispensable ally in ending HIV

Lagarde: Keep feeding the banks cut down wages and food subsidies

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

UN chief calls for ‘united front’ against anti-Semitism after US synagogue mass-shooting

Thousands flee fresh violence in South Sudan, many ‘suffering from trauma’

Women lose most from the climate crisis. How can we empower them?

EU steps up its strategy for connecting Europe and Asia

The first new university in the UK for 40 years is taking a very different approach to education

COVID-19 vaccination: MEPs call for EU and global solidarity

Italy and Greece zeroed their fiscal deficits, expect Germany’s response

Protect women’s rights ‘before, during and after conflict’ UN chief tells high-level Security Council debate

New challenge: Not going through “burnout” in times of quarantine

Forced Vaccination in COVID-19 Pandemic: Ethically Justified Intervention or Draconian Measure?

Nearly a third of the globe is now on Facebook – chart of the day

Relieving the suffering of dying: Home Palliative Care as a spiritual coping strategy

Aid funding for Occupied Palestinian Territories at ‘all-time low’

‘Disaster resilient’ farming reduces agriculture risks, yields economic gains, says new UN agriculture agency report

Should tech companies pay us for our data?

Latin America is a mass-transit powerhouse. But it needs fine-tuning

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

This is why mountains matter more than you think

Hungary: people born in the 2020s won’t have legal rights any more to buy tobacco

Fair completion rules and the law of gravity don’t apply to banks

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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