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Toddler Hit and Run Video Shocks China, the World

Posted on the 18 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Toddler hit and run video shocks China, the world

Terrifying video

Mass outrage has erupted after a video showing a two year-old child being run over and then ignored has spread across the internet. The video shows a toddler being hit by two separate vans, which both fail to stop and help. As the girl lies on the floor, 18 people pass the scene without stopping to help, before eventually a rubbish collector, now known to be local woman Chen Xianmei, came to her rescue. The video was shown on Chinese television and uploaded to the internet, and has been watched millions of times, reported the BBC. There has been a vociferous reaction across China, as people can barely believe the apathy and heartlessness shown in the clip. But is this incident indicative of deep social and moral problems in China’s society, or is it impossible to draw such drastic conclusions from this isolated event?

“Even pigs and dogs are better than they are!” said one commenter about the passers by, quoted by the BBC.

A country outraged. The people of China responded fiercely to the video. The Daily Telegraph reported that over 4.4 million comments were made on Sina Weibo – China’s version of Twitter. The phrase “Please end the cold-heartedness” and subsequently “Please stop Apathy” rapidly spread across the site, as the Chinese people called for a recalibration of the nation’s moral compass. The girl’s grandfather, Mr Wang, reportedly told a local newspaper that he “hated those cold-blooded passers-by”, and his feelings are shared by much of the country. There are some that fear that the incident is symbolic of a fundamental moral weakness in a country that is growing rapidly. The BBC quoted one commenter, who said “Now people ignore everything other than money. This society is lacking people with a conscience badly.”

Scared into inaction. The explanation generally being proposed to explain the apathetic reaction of many passers-by is that people are afraid that helping others could bring trouble to themselves. The Independent reported that The China Daily highlighted a case where a man helped an ill woman, and was subsequently accused of harming her, and a situation where a man helped an elderly woman and was then forced to pay her medical fees. An Los Angeles Times blog, however, pointed to a recent report of an American tourist diving into a lake to save a suicidal woman, implying that core behaviours of people from different locales may vary.

Unfair to blame the whole country. Writing for CNN, psychology professor Joachim I. Krueger said that this was a classic case of “volunteer’s dilemma.” He pointed to the public outcry as evidence that the nation is not morally bankrupt, and reminded readers that similar stories can be found around the world, including America. “If an incident occurs in a foreign country or culture, it is easy – maybe tempting, as we grapple with something so baffling – to conclude that the particular culture is to blame, that it is being callous, uncaring or egotistical … but it would be too facile to think that apathy in the face of others’ suffering is a signature of the local culture.”

You can watch the video here, but please be warned, it is very graphic:

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