In early elementary school, snitching or tattling is common as kids learn to navigate rules and social dynamics. In these situations, the “snitcher” is usually trying to get someone in trouble, control another, or avoid blame. Often, no one is in danger of being physically hurt, and the situation could be solved without adult intervention with some conflict resolution skills.
By middle school, snitching has become socially unacceptable. Because of this stigma, older students may be afraid to report real trouble. Fear of being seen as a snitch peaks just as dangerous and inappropriate behaviors (bullying, sexual harassment, and threats of violence) are on the rise.
When kids understand the difference between snitching and reporting it helps them feel safe to report. This requires regular discussions at home and at school about what types of situations need to be reported. It’s also important to have a safe way for students to share, like Safe to Tell Colorado. This service allows students, families and community members to report concerns or threats anonymously.
In today’s world, all of us need to look out for each other. These efforts go a long way in helping our kids feel safe as well.