Essay on Bystander Effect : The Dark Figure of Crime

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In the year of 2012; 10,189,902 criminal offenses took place in the USA and were made known to law enforcement (FBI Uniform Crime Reports 2012). Another 3-3.4 million crimes were estimated to have been committed and not reported (Bureau of Justice Statics 2012), making for a total of around 13,189,902 crimes committed in the year of 2012. This figure of unreported crime is referred to as the dark figure of crime and will never truly be known. This figure exists for a number of reasons including, fear of the victim to come forward, lack of resources available to the victim, lack of understanding by the victim regarding his or her options, and lastly the lack of help from outsiders. This lack of help can best be referred to as the bystander effect. The bystander effect is the social psychological phenomenon that takes place when individuals do not offer any type of assistance to a victim of a crime or medical emergency. (Henslin 2005). Note, this theory does not only apply to victims of crime, but also to victims of medical or physical emergencies. This theory was originally tested in 1986 by John M. Darley and Bibb Latene in reaction to the famous rape and murder case of Kitty Gonovese in 1964 and has since been further examined. The key components that contribute to the bystander effect include diffusion of responsibility, personal cost of getting involved, type of crime, relationships and exposure to, or knowledge of crime.

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