Recently in the news was a story about the death of a young boy (around 11 years old) who was murdered by a gang. Unfortunately death from the hands of a gang is nothing new. What makes this death so horrific is that people stood around and watched and did nothing.
I learned about the death because of a petition that came through email to me. People are horrified by this poor boy’s death and rightly want to do something. So, the email declares sign this petition that will start discussion about writing a law that forces people to act whenever they see abuse happening.
I sat and contemplated signing the petition but in the end I didn’t. And here’s why:
1. I don’t think it can be enforced.
It would definitely be nice to round up each person that stood and watched and recorded this poor kid’s death on their phones and delete the footage and ask why they didn’t help. But that’s not going to happen. How do you find them? How do you know who all watched and did nothing? What if you miss some people and find 4 out of 6 or 8 out of 20? It’s one thing in the case of a single person who sees child abuse, knows it’s happening and does nothing, like a doctor, a pastor, a teacher, a daycare provider, a neighbor. But it’s another when it’s a group of strangers and an incident like this. The likelihood of finding who all was there and didn’t help – very very low. Having a law in place won’t change what happened, and probably won’t keep it from happening again.
2. Who gets to decide what is abuse and what isn’t?
Don’t get me wrong, the idea that children are being abused can keep me awake at night. I could wipe out child abusers and not even think twice. But that’s according to my definition of abuse. According to some people because I homeschool I am abusing my children. Sounds foolish I know but there are people who would report me for keeping my children at home to learn from me. It’s a form of child abuse in their eyes. So who get’s to decide what type of abuse is real child abuse and what isn’t? What if a person sees my child at the store screaming (it could happen – I did it to my mom growing up all the time) and they think it’s abuse? I know it’s because I told the child “no candy,” but the stranger doesn’t know that. Does that need to be reported? Some might say the fact that I told my kids “no” at all is a form of abuse. It sounds silly but once things become law you have to deal with the minutia. What is abuse and what is not? And who gets to decide?
3. It’s not a law that needs to be changed, it’s people’s hearts
It would be wonderful if changing laws could change lives but the fact of the matter is – it doesn’t. The truth is telling people they have to do something doesn’t mean they will. Otherwise you could make staying in shape and eating healthy a law and tada, goodbye obesity. People who otherwise obey rules drive just a little bit over the speed limit all the time (myself included). You could force kids to play outside, eat less sugar, get less screen time, and read more. Laws forcing people to act in positive ways are a lot harder to control and enforce. Because it’s a matter of the heart. If these people did not mind standing around while this poor kid begged for someone to help – how is a law going to change that?
The fact is – lives do not matter as much in our society. We are cold, distant, easily entertained, and separated from reality because we can look at everything through a little screen. What I see on the screen does not affect me personally. It’s purely entertainment. A law won’t change that mindset. A heart change will.
In my opinion – we don’t need more laws, we need more repentance.
As a society we have been horrified by all the school shootings and many have demanded stricter gun laws. Children killing children is a terrible thing that should never occur. As a society we are horrified at a group of people standing around recording another person’s death on their phones. Why didn’t they intervene??? But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this. In the last couple years I also heard a story about a group of boys who watched as a man drowned. I don’t know all the details, but what I do know is the boys refused to help because they wanted to see what happened while the man drowned. In other words, they wanted to watch him die.
What type of society sees watching someone die as entertaining?
It’s not laws that we need, it’s repentance. Repentance that we have made entertainment our highest goal. Repentance that we have so devalued life that our first response when someone is in trouble is to capture it on our phone and not reach out our hands to help. Repentance that our first thought is to change laws, instead of being sick to our core that this is even a concern in the first place!
I couldn’t sign this petition because I don’t agree with this law.
It is good to want to make a change when something horrible happens.
It is good to want people to act right and be different.
It is good to ask hard questions and see what can be done and change laws – if need be.
But I think making this law would be like putting a bandaid on a gushing wound. It feels good because at least you did something. But the reality is you didn’t do enough. You didn’t touch the wound.
There’s a wound in America today and much blood is being lost because of it. It’s time to stop putting on bandaids and it’s time to start getting to the cause. Life is more important than entertainment. Even when it’s your’s and not mine.