To Help Or Not To Help? That is the Question

Friday night I went out with my friends to a party off-campus. I arrived at the party with two other girls and a male friend. A few hours later the party started to die down and as my friends and I were preparing to leave, I noticed one of my girlfriends was nowhere to be found. I’ve been debriefed countless times about the dangers of college parties so I began to worry. I called, texted her, and even went back into the house to look for her to no avail. 20 minutes later she called me and told me was in the upstairs bathroom and needed help going back to campus. This experience made me realize I was utilizing the 5 steps to helping in my quest to make sure my friend was okay, but there were some difficulties along the way. The first step to helping is noticing what is going on. As soon as the party died down and I noticed my friend was missing, that’s when I knew something was wrong, which leads us to the next step in helping: interpreting the event as an emergency (step 2). When she was clearly intoxicated and in need of help in the bathroom, I assumed responsibility (step 3) because others did not help her, maybe due to a large number of people present in the house (diffusion of responsibility). I knew the appropriate form of assistance (step 4) was to help her up, walk her back to her dorm, and provide her with water and food. This could arise issues because many people have not had the experience to know what to do in that situation, which would result in a break in the model, leading to a lack of intervention. I was able to implement this decision (step 5) because intervening did not pose a physical danger to me and the costs of helping her did not outweigh the benefits. If others were aware of the diffusion of responsibility and the 5 steps to helping, they might have been able to also offer her assistance.

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