What would you do – or have done?
Two men are sitting next to each other in a hospital eye clinic.
They chat and each asks the obvious question: ‘‘What brings you here?’’ The answer from one of the men, an 82-year-old, swings a polite general conversation to a very specific community concern.
The other party, veteran protester and community campaigner Dick Cuthbert, is shocked.
What he hears highlights a dilemma many of us have faced but done nothing about and perhaps been subsequently remorseful about.
Now read on. This could or might have been you.
The older man was walking in a large park with open grass spaces and children’s sports fields.
An access road running through allowed car and truck access.
He noticed two preschool children and was concerned that the youngest – a little girl he thought to be about three years old – was playing on and near the road apparently unsupervised by parents or caregivers.
A truck nearly knocked the girl over as he watched.
The man gathered up the two children and wandered around the sports crowd asking questions in an effort to find the parents.
It wasn’t easy but he eventually did.
He spoke to a woman, though the man with her, who he assumed was the father, said nothing throughout the whole affair.
The worried walker remonstrated that the children being unsupervised near a road meant that they could be run over.
The response was barbed:
‘‘Mind your own f…ing business. How we bring up our kids is no f…ing business of yours.’’
The concerned walker returned to his car where he soon responded to a tapping on the window and wound the glass down.
He was suddenly ‘‘king hit’’ – a punch landing on his eye without warning.
Some people videoing their son playing soccer filmed the incident.
They called the police who came and interviewed them, took their footage, talked to the injured walker and drove him to hospital.
He was there for five days and his presence in the eye clinic on the day Dick Cuthbert was there was one of a number of follow-up treatments in the near two-months since that punch.
A man has since been arrested and charged with assault.
Dick Cuthbert draws on his 21 years with Child, Youth and Family as he reflects on the incident says:
‘‘What struck me was not only its topicality but the quite deep and thought provoking issues it raises for us all as it is my view this is a quite common occurrence but more
short and specifically:
‘‘When does a bystander decide to get involved?
‘‘What do you do when the situation is very tense or even violent?
‘‘If a bystander is frightened, should they get involved?’’
And here’s further food thought:
What about Praveet Chahal, the woman featured in the latest Sunday Star-Times?
She was battered while out for a walk and screamed out for help from bystanders. No-one answered her plea. What sort of people are we? Watch this space.
Battered: Praveet Chahal called for assistance and got none. Would you have helped?