Why we love seeing babies under buses

Posted on May 26, 2010

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Toy trains: the safest option for babies

Ok, so nobody actually loves seeing babies go under buses. Not really. But we do, as a nation – maybe even as a world – have  a weird desire to see strange events happening in strange circumstances.

For some reason, we really like to see snapshot CCTV footage of bizarre things happening, particularly if it involves children. I can recall at least four such things in recent memory:

1) Baby in pushchair rolls in front of a train: a baby in Australia survives being pushed along a length of track by a train after accidentally rolling onto it.

2) CCTV captures escalator rescue: a four-year-old Turkish boy clings on to the outer side of an escalator and is caught by a diligent shopkeeper.

3) Bus CCTV footage shows toddler’s narrow escape: a bus driver brakes just in time to avoid hitting a child sitting in the middle of the road.

4) Baby hit by train survives: another child rolling onto the track in a pram survives.

What is with this? Why are we so obsessed with seeing such things? Sure, it’s a tale of triumph, of drama, of excitement. But it wouldn’t be if those babies hadn’t survived. Nobody wants to see a baby under a bus, or a train, or falling off an escalator if it doesn’t live.

In these days where we can see essentially anything – from tv, from the internet, whatever – something real is something we’re really interested in. Something that’s a novelty. Something that has the shock factor, being as we’re totally desensitised to scenes of war and horror. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

For me, it kind of falls into the same category as people’s obsession with reading those stories that come in books with white covers, italic writing and a sad, pastel coloured picture of a child on the front. The my-childhood-was-just-so-damn-terrible-I-have-to-tell-you-all books. It’s that desire to peer into something terrible that we know is terrible, yet we want to know about it anyway. Personally, I can’t stand those books, but where there’s a market there are those willing to share.

Babies under buses probably isn’t quite so bad, as there’s a happy ending. Unless it’s case number 3) above, as the child is now potentially to be taken away from its parents. And I still can’t settle on whether it’s normal feel-good news or just a little bit weird to watch these videos. Still, whenever I see one of those videos pop up on my homepage, I have a look. Wouldn’t you?

Image from dalelane‘s photostream @ Flickr.

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