Friday, November 10, 2006

the essence of inhumanity is indifference

The Genovese syndrome; also known as the bystander effect, or bystander apathy

The stink of it is; in New York City, in 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death by a serial rapist and murderer. The murder took place over a period of about thirty minutes, during which dozens of alleged "witnesses" failed to help the victim.

The parallel is that “dozens of witnesses” are watching honest accountability to a meaningful standard of conduct, being stabbed to death by APS Leaders, and are failing to help the victim.

As you can imagine, this phenomenon weighs heavily on me. I researched the Genovese syndrome in an effort to understand, why?

The first thing I found out is that individual bystanders are less likely to intervene if there are other bystanders.

According to the Wikipedia;”…the most common explanation of this phenomenon is that, with others present, observers all assume that someone else is going to intervene and so they each individually refrain from doing so. This is an example of how diffusion of responsibility leads to social loafing. People may also assume that other bystanders may be more qualified to help, such as being a doctor or police officer, and their intervention would thus be unneeded. People may also fear "losing face" in front of the other bystanders, being superseded by a "superior" helper, or offering unwanted assistance. Another explanation is that bystanders monitor the reactions of other people in an emergency situation to see if others think that it is necessary to intervene. Since others are doing exactly the same, everyone concludes from the inaction of others that other people do not think that help is needed. This is an example of pluralistic ignorance and social proof.”

“Furthermore, pluralistic ignorance is countered by the implication that all bystanders are indeed interested in helping, and social proof kicks in when one or more of the crowd steps in to assist.”

Or, Somebody should do something. If one person can summon the courage to intervene, they will be joined by others.

Is there an emergency? The concept of emergency is subjective, my emergency is not yours, and vice versa. Perhaps the question is not, is there an emergency, but, is there a problem worthy of investment in a solution?

The Josephson Institute does a survey of American Youth every two years. The survey and results appear to be reputable. The Institute’s website is the first source should you want to verify my summary.

The results indicate that among our sons and daughters; three of five agreed that, “In the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win, even if others consider it cheating”. Two of five believe that “A person has to lie or cheat sometimes in order to succeed”. One in five believes that “People who are willing to lie, cheat or break the rules are more likely to succeed than people who do not”. Four of five admit they lied to parent within the past 12 months about something significant.” Three of five admit they lied to teacher within the past 12 months about something significant”; one in three said they lied two or more times.”

One in three copied an internet document within the past 12 months; one in five did so two or more times. Three in five cheated during a test at school within the past 12 months; one in three did so two or more times. One in five stole something from a parent or other relative within the past 12 months; one in ten did so two or more times.

If this is not an emergency, perhaps we can agree that there is a problem whose solution is worthy of investment.

In 1998, the local CHARACTER COUNTS! task force surveyed parents in Albuquerque. Among the results; 94 percent agreed that "it is important to teach character education in the public schools."

Character education is not being taught in pubic schools whose leadership openly refuses to be held accountable to the same standard of conduct that they are telling students deserves their honest accountability.

I find myself very discouraged by the lack of attention that I am able to draw to what I think is an important problem. I really believe that the best interests of children are among the stakes on the table. I believe that there is an emergency.

It appears to me that my readers are comfortable sitting on the fence. No one will argue that the truth is misrepresented; yet no one is compelled by the truth to abandon their seat on the fence. In order to stand on my side of the fence you are required to help to spread the word, and at some point you will be asked to stand up for what you believe in. You will be required to speak up (at least symbolically) at the next board meeting, even if it is only by email.

This is about the message; it is not about the messenger.

For my part, I am not asking you to support me as a messenger; or in any other capacity. I will do that only once; when I ask you to vote for me as a candidate for the board seat representing School Board District 4.

In the mean time, I am asking only for your support of the principle. At the next public forum, I will ask the Board and Superintendent to respond to their lack of accountability to a meaningful standard of conduct.

If at that moment, you stand up; I will neither assume nor represent that by standing you offer support to me. By standing you will represent only that you too expect the Leadership of the APS to tell the truth about their honest accountability to a meaningful standard of conduct.

It would seem that I am the only one who cares. I suffer certainly; but so do the students in the Albuquerque Public Schools. That’s why I can’t just give up.

“The essence of inhumanity is indifference.” unk

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