Thursday, July 7, 2011

Enough With The Innocent Bystander!

I have been so busy (as is everyone I am sure) that I have been putting off writing. And then today happened....and I had to sit down and write!


I was driving home from work today, talking to my husband and starting to unwind. I came up the hill to leave campus and right at the last intersection I saw a truck in the middle of the intersection as if it had just been in a accident. Then I saw a bicycle on the side of the road with the biker. Then I saw a girl laying in the middle of the road. I hung up on my husband, threw my car on the side of the road and ran up to her. There were three men on the scene, the man who was driving the truck was pacing around the scene, the man with his bicycle who just stood there, and another man who had stopped from the other side. As I ran up to her he called 911.

I began stroking her hair saying "Hi honey, Can you open your eyes?", "Can you look at me?", "What's your name?" Her eyes started to open and flutter and over the next three minutes she slowly came back, began to remember where she was and what happened, and recognized that her head was hurt. I held her hands so she could not reach her head where she was injured and stayed right with her until the medics arrived and took over. As I walked away, I took her cell phone from her hand and found her father. That was by far the hardest phone call ever: "Hello Sir, your daughter is alright, but she has been in an accident. She needs you to come here right away..." Luckily he was less that ten minutes away so he was able to arrive and follow the ambulance to the hospital.

No doubt she'll have a concussion and a bump on her noggin but based on the medics' comments, the young woman is going to be a-ok.

so now, to apply this vignette...


There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be an innocent bystander.In fact, the phrase "innocent bystander" should be "guilty bystander". There is no scene where it is acceptable that one person who has the ability to physically, mentally, or emotionally aid another person or living creature and does not. It is a civic and moral responsibility to act, to speak up, and to be an active citizen in the community.

In fact, as social workers, we are ethically bound to act when situations arise. Our fundamental values are: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. Code 6.03 states that social workers have a responsibility in cases of public emergencies: "Social workers should provide appropriate professional services in public emergencies to the greatest extent possible." I could elaborate into the details of how this vignette also relates to competence, integrity, and value of human relationships, but I don't believe that is necessary. Not only as social workers, but as humans, we must be able to reach out and help a person at any time.


While this event happened right here and today, it is applicable to all accidents, even catastrophes. Everyday the media covers issues around the globe that are about the pain of someone, yet how much do we, do I, or do you actually do about it? I am not discrediting those who are active in humanitarian and social justice programming, but we all need to be more active. We all need to step up, do more, become a far more active citizen in a global society. As social workers, we are ethically bound and responsible to act!

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