The “Innocent” Bystander

A small boy is beaten half to death while a cameraman just stands there and laughs

Chandler Hoel, Editor

Last week, something went viral. Millions of things went viral. But for the people in our community, it was not like anything we’d ever seen. On Snapchat, there was a video going around amongst teens from Boulder and Weld county that people were posting on their stories (Snapchat posts that all of your friends can see). The captions of the teens who posted it say “where does this guy live?” and “Found the address, it’s on sight” (meaning: we know when and where we’re going to fight this kid). Now you may be thinking, what has got almost every kid in our little town fuming in anger, ready to go fight someone they don’t even know?

The answer is dreadful. The video posted was one of a teenage boy, looking at least 17 or 18 years old, beating the life out of a small boy. The younger boy is in critical condition, he’s still in the hospital from the wounds he received from the fists that were three times the size of his own. The teens who posted it seemed to be justified in feeling this way, and with the constant sharing and posting, it didn’t take long for the teenage boy (who’s name has still not been discovered)  to be arrested and put in jail. 

There is something unfinished about this case, though. First of all there is a young boy in the hospital, fighting for his life, and second there is still a criminal walking around scratch free. No, I’m not talking about the boy who did the fighting, but the boy who filmed the fight. The video itself was truly disgusting, the little boy was screaming and crying while his head got slammed into the ground, while the aggressor and his videographer were laughing. A truly heinous thing to see, and it was just handed to teenagers to be dealt with. 

The point is, today everyone thinks they are the innocent bystander. They pull out their phones and film whatever is going on in front of them without actually doing anything. This was the perfect example. The “innocent bystander” whose face is never shown, is just as guilty as the person who actually fought the child, and was exposed to everyone. The fact that someone is behind the camera, letting this happen, encouraging something so treacherous, is disgusting. And it happens all the time, everywhere. Whenever there is a fight, especially in high schools, someone always films it and it will be shared, liked and reposted until everyone forgets about it. That’s the way of the world now, and it’s absolutely disgusting.

There are some instances, though, where being a bystander and taking a video is the safest way to go. If someone is armed or has a weapon and is visibly aggressive, then you should take a video instead of trying to step in. In that situation, getting involved could mean putting yourself and everyone around you in danger. In a moment like that, discretion is the best route. But, if you see someone getting beaten senseless, especially if there is an age and size gap as significant as this one, then definitely intervene. Don’t just pull your phone out and share the video with your friends, it’s disruptive and dangerous, even to its viewers. 

Everyone should understand the severity of this problem, and we need to do better when it comes to sticking up for each other. So if ever you see someone being beaten, do the right thing, do not resort to your camera, and step in. If you feel the situation is too dangerous or too risky, then it’s better to take videos, but when a child is being physically abused, how much longer do you think they’ll wait in front of the camera for someone to save them? How much longer until the abuse given to them becomes the abuse they inherit and give to others. We must do better. We have to.