Your opinion on the subject of "civic courage"

Northern Germany at the end of May - people are outraged. A 14 year-old girl is brutallly raped by a man in the middle of a shopping street. She screams, pleads for help and begs a number of pedestrians to intervene. The attack continues for 30 minutes and is witnessed by at least seven people – and not one of them comes to her aid. The fact that the crime was not committed in broad daylight, as reported by Europe's largest daily newspaper, but according to FOCUS magazine at 10.00 pm does not make it any the less horrific.

The perpetrator was arrested but released on bail the next day, as the public prosecutor saw no danger that he might abscond.

One question remains: Why did people watch and do nothing?

Change of scene. Western Germany, a few days later. The newspaper "Neue Ruhr Zeitung" has a report about a 50 year-old cyclist who tried to stop a fight between two youths.

He shouted at them to stop, whereupon one of the two youths ran at him and punched him in the face several times. The cyclist's wife was repeatedly slapped around the face. The would-be mediator was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The perpetrator was able to escape.

What price intervention?

In many countries there is a legal obligation to render assistance, however things often look different in reality. According to a survey by the Institute for Jurisprudence and Science in Munich, 86 percent of those who had witnessed an act of violence did not go to the aid of the victim. 66 percent gave fear of the attacker as the reason, while 86 percent were afraid of being confronted with legal consequences. And 16 percent stated that what was happening was quite simply none of their business.

We are interested to know whether you have had any personal experiences – either positive or negative – where intervention by the public is concerned. Perhaps you have been able to help somebody in an emergency yourself, or have found that when you really needed help you were on your own.

What is your opinion on this subject, and what would you advise others to do? Send us an email. The most interesting will be published.