This past week my sister brought to my attention an article she had come across on CNN and when I saw the title I was instantly horrified. The article contained a video footage of a 2-year-old girl, Wang Yue, in China being hit twice by vehicles while more than a dozen passerby did nothing to help. The footage was captured in a market where after the white van runs over the girl, pauses briefly and continues driving off. Several people pass by without stopping the girl until, awhile later, she is hit by a second vehicle. More people continue to pass by her without stopping when finally a lady drags her off to the side and calls for help.
Clearly, China’s legal system seems unable to properly respond in incidents like this one, thus, new legislation is required. Some sort of Good Samaritan Law seems like a good idea if you ask me. What is a Good Samaritan law? It is legislation that provides for legal immunity for certain categories of individuals who respond to emergency situations. For example, firefighters and ET’s would be covered under this rule. However, in other jurisdictions, the category is more broad. In this case, if a random individual, not affiliated with a federal establishment, assisted during an emergency, he or she would be protected. Since China lacks such a jurisdiction, it has resulted in a moral numbness within the people. I understand many Chinese people are hesitant to help others after seeing others have to pay fines to the individuals they sought to help. However, how can this justify helping a toddler that is slowly dying? Chinese policymakers must immediately pass a law like the Good Samaritan one to protect compassionate bystanders from prosecution.
Another theory that could be associated with this situation is the Bystander Effect. The Bystander effect refers to the phenomenon in which the more people there are, the less likely they are help a person in distress. When an emergency situation occurs, bystanders are more likely to take action if there are fewer people around. So, could this psychological theory be applied to the people involved in this devastating tragedy? In my opinion, I do not believe the Bystander Effect applies to this situation because the phenomenon occurs within large groups of people. But, as shown in the video, the market is calm with a few people walking past on occasion.
In another aspect, religion comes into play. Those of us who have grown up in a Christian household are probably familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Seeing as the people of China are dominantly not Christian, this could have affected the actions of the bystanders. Some people maybe quick to correlate the lack of the Christian religion with the lack of concern for human life. However, there is no evidence that the people involved in this crime didn’t hold those beliefs. Furthermore, some may attribute this event with the communist party, who could be seen as killing morality.
However, would any of the people who passed the child have stopped to help her if they had known there was camera footage to prove their good intentions? Also, even if a Good Samaritan law were in place, how would a judge grant immunity to a person when it is not clear whether he or she was assisting the injured person or actually causing the injury?
At the end,innocent Wang Yue, was in a coma when she arrived to the hospital, however, has passed away a few days ago.
Some questions to consider: To what extent does people’s morality clash with the laws? Is this clash understandable and or excusable? Why do you think it has occurred? Have there been other instances in which the intersection of law and morality come into play?