What “Don’t Tattle” Teaches

Monday, 3 May 2010 at 5:02 am Pacific USA Time.

Many people grew up hearing "don't tattle" and "don't snitch." Evidently, the idea is that if you see someone doing something wrong, keep it to yourself because nobody will like you. Nobody likes the person who reveals the truth, and wouldn't you rather be popular.

I've never understood this. I don't understand why people continue telling their children this. To me, this is what leads to unreported crimes, sexual abuse, and other issues. And for those of you who think that you don't want your kids to "snitch" but when they grow up, they'll know right and wrong, guess again.

I cannot tell you how many times I watch unjust things happen, and nobody says anything. Except me. I grew up being told you are your brother's keeper. Stand up for people. Stand up for the person who can't stand up for himself. Say something if you see something wrong. We were taught to tell the truth, and instead of lying to cover up bad decisions, we were taught to make better decisions.

In high school, we learned about the famous case of Kitty Genovese, who was evidently screaming while being murdered, and nobody wanted to call the police. Nobody wanted to get involved in what was someone else's trouble.

Last year, a bunch of teenagers watched a girl get gang raped. One decided to call AFTER it was over. How many kids didn't stop the attack or call the police earlier. They were standing there. Someone taught them that you don't tattle. If they had been taught to act on these things, someone would have seen this, and even if they didn't think they could stop it, they would have walked off and called the police. The attack evidently went on over an hour.

I recently saw something in an advertising blog about an ad that was being run to remind people to report things they think are crimes. The ad shows a guy feeling annoyed that his neighbours are loud… in the ad, he can evidently hear the man beating the woman. The ad asks how he will feel when he stops hearing her cries (and it's too late… and he did nothing). Good question.

It's about more than crimes. It's about standing up to what you see as wrong. It's how I was raised, and if you know me (or read my blog), you know I'm not afraid to say something. Someone recently asked if I were some sort of trouble-maker. I said I am a whistleblower.

Yesterday, I went to my apartment's sales office to ask why the leasing office is always closed (they sell some of the units here as condos, and run two different offices). The girl said she had nothing to do with that office, but heard the leasing agent is never there when she should be there. I said we should talk to the property owner about that. A grown woman said to me, "I'm not going to tattle."

Really. Someone whose job has nothing to do with you is creating a bad experience for customers who COULD be yours (if I like living here, maybe I'd buy a unit), and you don't want to say anything to your bosses. You'd rather your customers get poor service and a poor experience so that you don't have to report the problem.

I tend to think that people who don't want to tattle as adults have something or a lot to hide. I'm happy to stand up and say something because I know I have no closet skeletons. I can cast the first stone. :)

I would like to see today's parents teaching children better decision-making with the future and multiple possible outcomes in mind. I would like to see today's parents teaching children to stand up for what they believe in and what they think is right. How much less abuse, crime, or just day-to-day negative situations would there be if our children felt responsible for themselves and for their fellow man?

Just a dream.

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Categories: That's Bad Marketing

Comments Closed

2 Responses to “What “Don’t Tattle” Teaches”

  1. Jim Sanderson says:

    I am pleased that you seem proud to be a “Whistle-Blower”. I have always pictured you as a person who does not hesitate to report wrong doing.

  2. It’s just how I was raised, Jim. I was taught to stand up for what I thought were wrong or when I see people being hurt.
    Call it what you will. All I know is that it’s the right thing to do. You are your brother’s keeper.