Photo May 28, 9 02 17 PMStudent: “Snitches get stitches and wind up in ditches Mr Corn….and I ain’t no snitch.” 

The phrase just hung in the air and the class was silent. What should I say? If no one in the class comes clean, then someone got away with it. This is the culture of my school, and I suspect it’s everywhere.

What I wanted to say is, “You say you’re not a snitch, but maybe you should be. What you’re saying to me is that you’re not brave enough to stand up and do is what is right. What you’re saying is that you are happy to let your friend go down a dangerous path. What you’re saying is that you think he’ll cover for you later if you cover for him now. This is not love for your friend. It’s selfishness on your part. Love would want what is ultimately the best for your friend and that includes consequences which will allow him to grow and learn from his poor choices. What you’re saying is that you don’t care enough about society and the world around you to do something about a wrong. You’re saying that you’re OK with a steady decline in the morals of our community. ‘Cause if you let him get away with it, and he lets you get away with it, eventually someone else is gonna get away with more and maybe even against you. If it continues, your children will grow up in a world where no one ever tells and everyone gets away with everything. Somehow I think, if you were the victim, you might not be saying “Snitches wind up in ditches.” You might find yourself saying, “Someone man up and do the right thing. We need justice here.” This no-snitch culture is ultimately hurting us. It’s a fast-food/I-want-it-now attitude that will plague our future. Yes, now we can get away with it, but as we do we are unconsciously telling others they can too. This creates a downward spiral of the moral fabric that guides everyone around us and will lead to our demise.

We need heroes. Heroes are courageous and self-sacrificing. They do the right thing even if it’s scary – even if it costs them something. Snitches can be heroes, and yes, maybe some of them wind up in ditches, but that doesn’t change their hero status. It only makes them bigger heroes who were willing to pay the price for what is right.

What? Pay the price? Be the hero in the ditch? It seems that our culture believes the bullies’ fear tactics have won the battle and convinced everyone that not saying anything is okay. Is there another way? I have had students who anonymously let me know what’s going on or speak without saying a word. Sometimes a look is all it takes. As a teacher, this helps me know what happened, but it doesn’t help me with addressing the situation ’cause there is no proof – sort of like inadmissible evidence. (Unless of course, the anonymous student is willing to give an official statement to an administrator while still remaining anonymous to the perpetrator.) Ultimately, I guess I’m back to heroes. We need heroes who are willing to do the right thing no matter what. 

OK – So now you know how I feel…….but what about “Tattling?” Is that the same thing? As a parent I teach my kids not to tattle every little detail ’cause I want them to learn how to “handle” some situations on their own. Part of learning how to navigate this world includes “figuring it out,” working with others, compromising, sacrificing, and sometimes it means learning how to just “deal with it.” Do I want them trying to punish the other one by hitting them? No! Of course not. But these are difficult things to navigate for a child’s mind. “How much does daddy want me to handle on my own? Where is the line?” If my child is being abused or has been with a friend who likes to play with daddy’s gun, I want him to tattle. I need him to be a snitch.

I saw a video this afternoon where someone explained to children that we never “tattle,” but it’s good to “report” something. They went on to describe reporting as an issue where someone is endangered or unsafe. This might be a helpful distinction but I haven’t had time to think through it too much. There are lots of big questions here. And what about the “lying snitches” that wrongfully accuse or implicate an innocent? So what do you guys think? I looked at over 700 images on google and couldn’t find anything speaking in a positive way about snitching. Am I way off in my thinking here? As a parent, am I creating a “no-snitch culture” by telling my kids not to tattle? Is this leading to the demoralization of our culture?

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke


35 Replies to “Snitches”

  1. I like your man blog Steve Corn. I deal with “snitching” pretty often. Most people in the communities do not want to be seen speaking to Police because they are afraid of being labeled a “snitch”. By them being silent, and you hit it right on the head, they are subjecting themselves and their loved ones to an indefinite act of malice. ” the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. The communities I work in are destroyed because most people take a selfish role in their lives and don’t care about others. If more people would snitch and report evil, less innocent people would be victims. Just my thoughts.

    1. I think you are so on point. I have always told mine you have to stand up for what is wrong. It is not always easy, but it is the right thing to do. Tattling vs. reporting – There are those that constantly will tattle about every little thing, especially if they are not getting their way. However, reporting is something different, if it can cause harm or is very dangerous then they need to say something. I think that is part of learning to trust your instincts.

      1. Great point Marty. It’s a tough thing for kids to learn cause instincts can also lead them to lie or deny as well as telling truth. I think if they understood the distinction between tattling and reporting, it’d be helpful.

    2. Thanks Clint. I was hoping someone like you would weigh in on it. When I googled it, I couldn’t find anything speaking of it in a positive way. The communities you’ve described and serve in are the natural result of this attitude and culture. What can be done? What should we do/teach our children to fight this?

      1. Teach your children that when someone has been wronged, it is their obligation to take up for their brother or sister and help make it right. That’s something you taught me when you were leading us Steven!

        1. I found a women that said she would make sandwiches for me for life! (Your invitation is in the mail).

          1. That’s awesome! I’m betting you’ll make them for her too. Glad you found her.

  2. We’ve had some issues with the Hufsmith kiddos. They keep things to themselves that sometimes they shouldn’t. Your mom in love knows all about our neighborhood!

    1. I was a part of some of the summer lunch times TUMC did with them. Of course the kids have changed but I remember how they were influenced by the community there. Praying for you guys.

      1. Jane’s vision has grown the program to an after school ministry. We are there every Tues & Thurs. It is so fun/crazy/hair-pulling!

  3. As with most things in parenting, I find that the delicate balance is hard to find. I’m hoping that we are teaching our kids how to make wise decisions because really that’s the only way as they grow to be in the moment and be able to make the call between when to handle it themselves & when to seek mature counsel. Obviously harder for a 3 & 5 yr old to get but Landon is starting to understand more & more what wise choices & foolish choices are. Intentional prayer is all I know to do as a parent!

  4. Those middle school years are tough. My daughters don’t want to be snitches. I’ve heard this saying from Nicole. I ask her if the situation was turned around, would you want someone to stand up for you?? Or would you want everyone to stay quiet and let the bully get away with being mean again? Like you said we need heroe, but that is hard for 12 year olds.

  5. Great article Steve! I like your thinking, but understand that the choice can be difficult for a child. I need to think about the options for kids and where the line is drawn before commenting further.

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