Snitches Get Stitches, Believe Me

Defending what's right can come at a cost

Ella Sinciline, Reporter

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photo by Lloyd Lewen
Following the Safe2Say presentation last month, the 2nd floor boys’ restroom was vandalized.

“Let’s make this test a group test.”

I stared blankly at the boy making this brazen proposition to me. I could not verbally let someone else down, so I shrugged and then proceeded to pull the cardboard barrier ever so slightly closer to my test so that he can not see my work — a simple action that may have been more impactful than a hard “no.”

There I sat, taking my Spanish quiz, while the only thing I could truly focus on was the thought that the person next to me now probably hated me.

To make matters worse, it soon became apparent that my initial counter-move would not deter the determined cheater. Throughout the test, the boy leaned back in his chair and glanced at my paper. I became frustrated as I thought that our teacher might see and assume that I was okay with this. For 45 minutes, the situation continued, and I let myself become more focused on the person next to me and our newly complex relationship than on the test itself.

Throughout the next few weeks, this became his routine. He would recline and extend his neck, as if he were driving on a highway and my test was an accident on the other side of the road. I would have minded less if I didn’t know that rubbernecking often leads to serious trouble.  Eventually, I brought the situation to my teacher.

I admit that I often ignore people who lack academic integrity, mostly because I know that wherever they end up in life, at a certain point they will realize that they have only cheated themselves. However, this incident became personal. After a few weeks of protecting my tests,  I stayed after class one day and suggested to my teacher that some students in the class may be looking onto other students’ papers.  She smiled and thanked me, and I was on my way. However, as I walked out of the classroom and into the hallway, I noticed that a different boy from my class had been standing by the door and listening to the conversation.

After that moment, my teacher began to take notice during tests. As it turns out, more people than just the boy next to me were cheating. Students began to get zeros weekly, and the news spread. Before long, every Spanish student in my grade soon knew about the situation, and I was the culprit.

He would lean back and extend his neck, as if he were driving on a highway and my test was an accident on the other side of the road.”

Once the eavesdropping boy who had stood by the door had told all of his friends about my conversation with the teacher, my reputation was solidified — a cold-blooded, two-faced, stuck up, snitch.

Every time I was called out for an early dismissal, all of the boys in my class would cheer. When I did poorly on a test, those same boys would whisper and smirk. When we were separated into groups, I would be ignored. My teacher saw this and seemed to simply view it as playful banter. She is not in tears, my teacher probably thought, so she must be strong enough to handle it. She is fine with it, right?

Eventually, however, I was pushed to the point of never wanting to be in that class. If I had an appointment in the morning, I would ask my mom to conveniently drop me off at school after fourth period. If I had an early dismissal, I would beg to be dismissed before that class. If I ever had to option to not be in that class, I took it. But I never explained why to anyone… because this was all my fault. Right?

After years of being told that no one likes a tattle tale, we are conditioned to ignore the kid looking onto our test, if only to maintain relations with others. And while the events mentioned above are minor, sometimes snitching can be more consequential. What if a friend threatens to hurt another person?  Or what if they threaten to hurt themselves? Should we still allow the stigma against snitching direct our course of action, even if someone is in danger? 

We may think of our elementary days when reflecting upon this subject. In the early grades, we all learn that it’s not cool to rat out another student.  However, we have obviously carried this mentality through to high school, and many of us will continue to keep quiet in the face of wrongful or dangerous behavior into our adult lives.

It’s time to stop blaming the people who are brave enough to stand by their morality and start blaming those who use the word “snitch” in order to protect what is plainly not right. In my case, I believe in academic integrity — if that makes me a snitch, then so be it.