In the wake of a beating that Guards watched...

Dear Engaged Bystander, A friend just sent me the NY Times article about a 15 year old girl who was physically attacked in Seattle while four security guards looked on and did nothing. The video is astonishing, but I decided NOT to post it here - you can easily find the YouTube link within the NY Times article.

The article echoes the experience of a close friend who was mugged in a NYC subway. Years after the attack, she has worked through most of the trauma of that moment. But 20 years later, the difficulty that lingers for her is not the attack itself, but the people who were there, stood by, and did nothing. Many people in Seattle said that the guard's behavior, as uch as the crime, was what stunned them most. Many people sid that they would have acted differently, regardless of the company policy.

According to a spokesperson for the security company, "They did what they were supposed to, Observe and Report." The security contract prohibits guards from intervening to keep the costs down and to protect the company against liability. But in this case at least, this contract and the incident are being reviewed.

In a city that is known for it's environmental, friendly urban image, these images of violence and inaction were hard to reconcile. According to the article, "Seattle is a city where crime is low and compassion runs high."

In this case, the culture of the City, the cultural norms, make this video particularly shocking. And luckily, these same cultural norms have put more highly skilled guards in this area and the city is now reviewing the security for these areas. Working towards this kind of cultural norm, where doing nothing is unacceptable, is an essential piece of a bystander prevention program.