See something, say something has become more than a saying, it’s a movement. With the increasing dangers, threats, and bullying that occur on any given day, it’s imperative that children know how to report concerning incidents and behaviors with a trusted adult, and feel safe doing so. While these kids may understand that something should be reported, knowing how to start a conversation might be tricky to young minds.
Along with not knowing how to initiate the subject of threats with adults, the fear of peer backlash is also present. Children worry about being deemed a tattletale or a snitch by reporting things they see and hear to adults. What is particularly concerning is that a reported 75% of teens who have contemplated violence, suicide and other forms of harm reported confiding these thoughts with their peers.
Having communications tools in place can help children and teens come forward and alert parents, teachers and trusted adults to intervene and potentially thwart these harmful acts. Here are some ways to give your child the tools to come forward and make your school and community a safer place by embracing the see something, say something mentality.
Clarify the difference between reporting, gossiping and snitching
Make sure students understand the importance of speaking up when they feel a peer is contemplating or suggesting unsafe behavior. Some helpful ways to clarify the difference can be:
- Reporting is when you speak up to keep a friend or peer safe from harming themselves or others.
- Gossiping is talking about someone’s personal matters, whether true or untrue.
- Snitching is saying something with the intent to get someone in trouble.
Body language can be just as important as words when talking to kids, especially if it’s not easy for them to open up. Listening, asking questions, and staying calm can all encourage the conversation to continue. Help them to feel safe and comfortable sharing, and try to avoid overreacting, even if the incoming information is startling.