The strange thing about a scream is that it seems incoherent yet can convey a meaning very clearly. Have you ever heard someone going on a rollercoaster and genuinely thought they were being attacked ? Probably not. But you may have heard someone who sounded like they weren’t really enjoying it. In amongst the screams, there is a difference between the fun edge of fear and the sharp edge of terror.
So what do you do when you hear a scream that sounds an alarm bell ? I guess the main thing is, not nothing. The right thing to do may be much harder to determine however.
Intervening may be helpful, particularly if you can safely change the situation, say a runaway pram that you could stop.
Intervening doesn’t necessarily mean having to do anything more than pause – check what the situation is. Are things going to be alright ? Is the situation resolving itself or being sorted by others ? Your mere presence, not actually saying or doing anything, may serve to help others to modify their actions.
Finally there is the option to enlist the assistance of others. Maybe you see one or more people stopping, like you, wondering what to do. Engage them. Feel the strength of your community spirit. Stand up for what is right. Of course that may mean calling on a relevant authority, be they police or others.
Imagine the what if scenario of not taking a moment and finding out later that something nasty transpired. How would you feel ? That does not mean you should put yourself into that situation but don’t assume either that someone else must be taking care of it – maybe this time it is your turn to make sure everyone’s all right.