One of the most basic human instincts is to take care of our young ones. Regardless of whether they are our own we feel the need to take care of or help a child. Or so we think…
Would you stop if you saw this little girl all alone on the street?
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) conducted a social experiment that may haunt you as you hear about it, but at the same time, it may also compel you to become a better person.
In the experiment, they put a little girl about 8 years old on the sidewalk in a busy part of a metropolitan area to see how adults passing by would interact with her.
She was dressed adorably but looked like she was lost and it was obvious she was not accompanied by an adult. Several adults stopped to check on her, ask if she needed help, and ask if she was lost. A few used their cell phones to call the authorities to get her help.
While it was heartwarming to see all the adults reach out to help the little girl, what happened in the next part of the experiment will give most of you the chills.
They dressed the SAME little girl in scruffy clothing and used markup to “dirty up” her face a bit. They put her back in the same exact spot and recorded what happened.
Unlike before, no one stopped! No one offered to help! In fact, most adults walked by her without even giving her a second look. It was as if she was wearing Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility!
UNICEF repeated essentially the same experiment in a crowded restaurant and got basically the same results. The little girl went from table to table all alone.
When she was clean and well dressed, people greeted her with open arms. They offered her food and talked to her with smiling faces.
However, when she was dressed in lower end clothes and made up to look a bit dirty, people treated her like a nuisance.
They asked their waiter to remove her. They hid their bags from her and they didn’t offer her food or kindness.
This situation is sad on so many different levels. If this were really happening, and not just part of an experiment, the little girl who needed the most help perhaps would be the little girl who got the least help.
Most of want to think that we wouldn’t act that way under the same circumstances. We want to think that we’d be just as inclined to help the little girl with the dirty clothes and smudged face as the little girl all dolled up. But… if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we have to wonder if we might have the same proclivities as the adults in the social experiment. We’d have to wonder if our prejudices would rear their ugly head, even if subconsciously.
The good news is that this UNICEF experiment gives us all the opportunity to be more introspective and take honest stock of our own prejudices. We can face them head on without actually hurting anyone and vow to overcome them. This social experiment rattles our collective conscious and makes us strive to do better. Sometimes we have to feel a bit uncomfortable in our own skin to make the positive changes our conscious wants us to make.
We can all see that what happened to the little girl in the experiment is wrong so now we must work together to correct these types of attitudes. We must remind each other to be more noble minded and decent to all our fellow humans, especially the children.