Catasauqua Press

Friday, June 23, 2017

Another View

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by The Press in Opinion

How altruistic are you?

Every day, someone becomes a victim of a crime. And, then there are those who risk their own lives and safety to help those in need.

When Daniel DeTurck, of Reading, Berks County, saw an Amber Alert Jan. 3 on his phone asking the public’s help to locate an infant abducted by alleged murder suspect Antonio Velazquez-Rupert, DeTurck didn’t hesitate to help.

When DeTurck, a security guard, saw a vehicle matching the description in the Amber Alert, he dialed 911 and took off after the vehicle — with no thought for his own safety or personal situation.

After helping police apprehend Velazquez-Rupert, DeTurck was promptly arrested for failing to pay $1,287 in child support.

He was released from jail two days later after a woman, identifying herself as his girlfriend, paid the child support.

In a turn of good luck, DeTurck received $5,000 as a reward for his actions from Crime Alert, Berks County.

When Jose Santini-Feliciano, 57, of Allentown, allegedly stabbed his wife and daughter-in-law at the intersection of Hamilton and 24th streets, Allentown, Feb. 22, two emergency medical technicians and an off-duty Allentown police officer jumped in to help the women.

Santini-Feliciano was arrested. The two EMTs with Philadelphia-based Romed Ambulance, were called heroes by Allentown Police Capt. Bill Reinik.

An article written by Thomas Seigel, attorney and former federal prosecutor, stated, “Most of the time, ordinary citizens are not legally required to report a crime or to do anything to stop it. In other words, there is no general duty to be a ‘good Samaritan.’”

There may be no law requiring citizens to report crimes; however, there are many states that do have mandatory reporting laws requiring certain types of people to report criminal activity.

While there may be no law requiring citizens to assist another in need, apparently everyone has some degree of altruism, which Merriam-Webster defines as “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others and behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species.”

According to a March 11 Inverse.com article titled “Psychologists Use VR to Test Whether You’ll Save Someone’s Life” written by Peter Hess, psychologist Indrajeet Patil and his colleagues at Harvard University, Cambridge, used virtual reality simulation to study and test altruism in human beings.

For purposes of this study, the researchers defined altruism as “helping behavior that comes with a significant risk to one’s own life.”

Their study published in the journal Neuropsychologia states, “We found that people who engaged in costly unreciprocated altruistic behavior, which entailed risking one’s own life to save a stranger, had an enlarged right [anterior insula (cortex)] compared to those who preferred to save themselves without helping.”

A&E Network’s hidden-camera television show “What Would You Do?,” with John Quinones, sets up real-life situations involving actors to see how average citizens would respond to others being hurt, mistreated or humiliated.

In one episode, “Teens Harass and Humiliate the Homeless,” strangers come to the aid of a homeless man being harassed and humiliated by three teens on the boardwalk in Long Branch, N.J.

What would you do if you witnessed a similar situation?

Would you take time out of your busy schedule to stop and help? Would you even call the police?

If you had something in your past like Daniel DeTurck, would you still stop and help, knowing you, too, could be arrested?

Susan Bryant

editorial assistant

Parkland Press

Northwestern Press