Students won’t intervene in fights for safety reasons

POSTED: 04/16/15 6:26 PM

St. Maarten—Asking a group of students of the Charlotte Brookson Academy yesterday their feelings towards the now infamous fight between an 18-year-old and a 14-year-old student that was broadcasted on social media proved interesting, since the students condemned the attack on the smaller child, they nevertheless were very firm that they would not have intervened had they been witness to the incident.

The question was put to the students by the team of First Response that is currently hosting the island wide high school art competition. This competition is geared at getting kids to recognize antisocial and criminal behavior and avoiding being a party to such. In a previous interview the organizers said the competition was organized as a direct result to the many reports of juveniles involved in crimes or other antisocial behavior. Asked whether they were aware of the meaning of the term juvenile delinquency, most of the students proved they were aware of the meaning. This lead to a discussion about the fight broadcasted on social media and the question “would you have intervened had you been present?” In the video of the incident a number of persons, mainly students can be clearly seen standing around and watching or filming while the bigger girl severely ill treats the smaller one to the point where the smaller girl ends up lying unconscious on the ground. This video sparked outrage at the brutal treatment meted out to the much smaller girl who can be clearly seen trying to avoid the confrontation that began as a verbal assault before it escalated and erupted into a nightmarish situation where the girl is mercilessly beaten in the presence of dozens of witnesses. This lead to the question, “why didn’t anyone try to help her?” The 18-year-old has since been arrested and released under certain conditions that include reporting to a probation officer.

All students to whom the question was put said they would not have intervened and their answers as to why they would choose not to help centered mainly around self-preservation. One student explained that she has been cautioned by her mom against intervening in fights since she may end up being attacked as a result of that intervention. Other students echoed similar sentiments and although they made clear that they thought the young girl needed assistance, they shed some light as to why none of the bystanders intervened to offer that assistance. “You might go and help and then the person will start pounding on you,” one student said. The Charlotte Brookson Academy is one of the few schools whose students have not been involved in after school fights or have to call the police to intervene in delinquent behavior, and though the kids are not timid, it is understood that such behavior as bullying and fighting will not be tolerated at this school.

Asked whether they would want someone to help them if they found themselves in this situation, the kids said they would. The First Response team noted the students reasoning for not getting involved but advised them that in these types of situations it would be advisable to get an adult who can help. It was also explained to the students that the girl in the video was in danger and may have been killed and they were then questioned as to how they would have felt had they been present at such an incident, stood by and watch and then the victim died. This thought was very sobering for the students.

Many of the students have already signed up for participation in the art competition which will give them a chance to put serious thought into what types of behavior are anti-social or criminal and ways they can be prevented. Participants have until April 29th to submit their art work to the First Response office.

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