What would you do – or have done?

Central Leader - - OPINION -

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?

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