Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

What would you do if you thought this child was being kidnapped? Social experiment prank on YouTube shows public failing to stop child abduction

In Yousef Saleh Erakat's videos the child, who is played by an actor called Nathan, approaches various adults and tells them a ‘man in a jacket’ is trying to put him in his car.
In Yousef Saleh Erakat's videos the child, who is played by an actor called Nathan, approaches various adults and tells them a ‘man in a jacket’ is trying to put him in his car.
One woman actually pepper sprays the fake abductor
One woman actually pepper sprays the fake abductor

A seemingly distraught young boy approaches you in public and tells you a man attempted to abduct him while he was in a park.

Moments later a man appears claiming to be the boy's father and tries to take him away. The boy acts nervously when asked if the man is his father. What would you do?

This very scenario is the one tested in a new video from Yousef Saleh Erakat a YouTube user who specialises in social experiment pranks that test the willingness of members of the public to intervene in a variety of stressful situations.

In the video the child, who is played by an actor called Nathan, approaches various adults and tells them a ‘man in a jacket’ is trying to put him in his car. The actor tells one couple: "He won’t stop chasing me".

Erakat, then approaches the group claiming to be the boy's father and says the boy has run off and is telling lies.

In the worrying experiment, which shows similarities to the so-called 'bystander effect' (a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present), a number of people let the obviously unhappy boy leave with the 'abductor'.

One man actually shakes his hand.

However, a number of people do intervene with one couple even using pepper spray to subdue the pretend abductor before the cameraman steps in and lets her in on the experiment.

Erakat wrote on his YouTube page that he wanted to make the videos because: "Growing up my biggest fear was getting kidnapped... This video was a way for me to express that fear in an artistic way and also spread positive change as to why it is important to ACT when put into these types of situations."

The 24-year-old achieved considerable internet notoriety last year after one of his videos, 'The Bullying Experiment', went viral.

The video, which was posted in December of last year, and shows people failing to intervene as one man bullies another, has to date been seen by over five million people.

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