This month, Police and Security News Magazine printed a great article regarding “confronting” the “stop snitching” mindset.
The concept of “snitching” as an unspoken “code of silence” is an interesting one. More and more people are adopting the “it’s not my problem” attitude and generally choose not to get involved even if they see something going wrong. Even more troubling is that even people with strong moral compasses will choose not to intervene and/or fail to report a problem for fear of retaliation and the stigma associated with being a “whistle blower.”
NOTE: This type of mentality does NOT make you safer. It does NOT make us- as a community- safer. It isolates us from each other. It isolates us from information, from collaboration, and puts us in greater danger.
For those of us in law enforcement and other first responder professions, we are dispatched to disturbances. We have a duty to respond to them, to resolve them, and a duty to report on them. In the civilian sector- there isn’t a professional obligation to get involved with a problem, nor is there a duty to report it. However, adopting the “no snitching” mentality is an ugly social contract. It allows situations such as bullying and harassment to continue. It allows dangerous situations such as child and pet abuse to escalate and it prevents students from reporting potentially serious information to teachers and parents, ultimately putting other students, and possibly your child, at risk.
It’s as simple and as serious as this: recognizing a problem and choosing not to report it could put your life and the lives of others in danger. It could be fatal. As in- it could be the last decision you ever make.
For example, being aware of a student who occasionally brings a gun to school “for fun,” and failing to report it to someone that could do something about it, is like being in possession of a time bomb. How long are you willing to hang on to that information before that student brings the gun to school again and accidentally shoots someone? Would you feel personally responsible for having withheld that information? How about if the victim of that shooting was a relative of yours…would you wish you had reported it? Or what if it was your child that was shot and you found out that another person (student, teacher, or parent) was aware of the problem and failed to do anything about it? Would you be angry? Filled with hatred? Guilt?
These questions are challenging and I challenge you to think about them the next time you encounter a situation that maybe a simple phone call or conversation would have prevented. You see, it is far too easy not to care. It’s more convenient not to care, not to intervene, and to assume that something isn’t a problem… until it directly affects you. The problem here lies within the “assumption” that the situation doesn’t affect you. It does. We are all directly responsible for creating a space that is physically and emotionally safe for our children. We are all responsible for maintaining a safe community that we WANT to live in.
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