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April 25, 2005 - The Beacon (PA Edu)

I'm Telling ... And Getting Paid For It

By Curran Dobson

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive




No one would aspire to be called any of the above names. But for students in Rome, Georgia, being a snitch could wind up paying off.

A high school in this community is offering to pay students for reporting instances of violence, theft, or illegal drug/firearm possessions throughout the school. Students could receive $10 for reporting a theft, $25 or $50 for reporting drug possession, and up to $100 for reporting student possession of a gun or other serious weapons.

Now, we all know money is a nice reward. And money for nothing is even better. Simply telling the administration that you think you saw someone smoking up behind the bleachers or that you think that was a gun sticking out of that sophomore's schoolbag comes with a nice monetary reward.

For the administration, which values safety and an adherence to the rules, having the students inform them on things that would normally go undetected allows them to deter violence and drug use. So, really, everyone wins, right?


While money is nice, what is the tradeoff for receiving a couple bills for ratting out your peers? Being known as a snitch comes with a bad reputation and can last much longer than the $50 you got last week for saying you saw three seniors stealing money from the lockers while you were in gym class.

Now don't get me wrong, I agree that those three hypothetical seniors should face consequences for the theft they committed. But, it is not the work or responsibility of the students to be watching out for thefts or drug abuse throughout the school.

Students should not be worried about safety and reporting crimes during the school day. The administration needs to develop some other way to ensure safety in the school, one that does not include students and does not take them away from their act of learning.

The administration should use the money that would have gone to students for ratting out their peers for instead developing a new program that includes monitors in the halls or cameras. There is never anything wrong with encouraging students to report instances of violence or crime when and if they see it.

However, when the sole responsibility for reporting and preventing these crimes comes from the students, safety can be compromised.

When there is a monetary reward for preventing crime and promoting safety, students can begin to abuse the system. It becomes entirely too easy to begin saying you saw something that truly never happened or to accuse someone for a crime that you know they didn't do.

This can cause students to be wrongfully accused of breaking rules that they truly did adhere to.

When the honesty of reporting crimes is compromised by a desire for money, safety declines and the method for promoting safety is ruined. Therefore, remove money from the picture, stop offering rewards, and quit asking students to tattletale on their peers. After all, money corrupts.

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