You’re walking through a major mall when you see a child by himself. What do you do? Do you keep on walking or do you stop to help?
This is the premise of a social experiment conducted by Key Assets Australia in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall.
Two child actors, Ava and Samuel, were left standing alone in the middle of the busy mall. What happened next? Some people walked by, not even noticing the children – or, just not sure if they should help. But, that didn’t last for long.
A few minutes into the experiment someone walks up to the child and asks where her mummy and daddy are, “Hey sweetie, when’s the last time you saw your mummy and daddy?” The concerned adult then asks the little girl if she can take her to the information desk. Soon after, two more women see the ‘lost’ little boy. They stop and ask Samuel if he’s alright. As the day goes on a total of 21 people stop and ask the children if they need help. If that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that this is over an eight hour period of time.
The experiment highlights the fact that children need someone to care about them. Key Assets’ Executive Director Rob Ryan says, “We hope that this social experiment will help bring attention to the desperate need for more foster carers in Australia and encourage those who have never thought about it, to reach out to us.” Ryan also notes, “When you are in Australia’s busiest pedestrian mall with thousands of visitors, it is sad to see that in eight hours, only 21 people offered to help the children. It really is the perfect metaphor for what is happening to children in need.”
More than 43,000 children in Australia are in need of care, according to Key Assets. If that sounds high, consider the fact that this number has been on the rise for the past 10 years. Not only are the number of children in need of care and protection growing, but the number of foster carers is decreasing. This means that there aren’t (and won’t be) enough caring adults to protect these young children, who are desperately in need.
Imagine that you’re walking through a busy mall. You see a child who’s lost and needs help right away. Would you stop? Now imagine that child isn’t physically lost, but instead lost in the foster care system. What about now? Would you still help?