Dr. Shadi Jani, Vice President of Programs for BRAVE Society, a Carmichael non-profit dedicated to peer abuse prevention, is concerned that one of the reasons why cyberbullying persists in our children’s peer communities is the perception that telling a responsible adult about an individual being targeted by a bully or a group is considered “snitching,” and will draw similar attention.
“Many children do not involve their teachers and parents when they experience cruelty and violence at school for the fear of being labeled as a ‘snitch,’” she said. “‘Snitch’ is a label that is widely utilized by cliques and influential groups at schools mainly as a tool to keep the victims and onlookers in check. Being labeled a ‘snitch’ equals being targeted by bullies and being isolated at school.”
And Jani acknowledges that while we don't want to create a culture of informers, we also do not want our children to surrender their power to the bullies and suffer in silence, or watch the cruelty and do nothing. Bullies reign free when bystanders say and do nothing to interrupt it, and are thereby complicit.
Let us be clear that “snitch” is a word used to describe someone who blows the whistle or becomes an informer against his own peers. The assumption by those using this word "snitch" to describe kids that report a cyberbully attack is that children must lower standards for civility and human decency in order to belong.
What our children must understand is that when one among you is not safe, then no one is safe. So it is important to help children distinguish between snitching and standing up for a fellow student being attacked. Jani encourages parents to help children think of themselves as up-standers.
“I believe our goal should be promoting a ‘stand up’ attitude in our children by explaining that trust, confidentiality, and loyalty ends when the necessity of defending a victim and speaking out against cruelty starts.”
According to Jani, our kids can understand that informing an adult is necessary when someone is hurting others emotionally, mentally or physically and will not be redirected by peers, or expresses plans to harm him/ herself and/or others.
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