The No Snitching Act

The “no snitching, no stitching” code, also known as the silence code, has resulted in an increase of violence, fear, and insecurity in the community. Before discussing the harm that it does, we must first become acquainted with what that term means. According to the Collins English Dictionary, a snitch means to steal; to turn informer, and the term is also closely linked to a betrayer. According to that same source “stitching” refers to a repairing, usually of clothing. Moreover, Merriam Webster dictionary states that the word “snitch” is of unknown origin and was first used in the year 1875.

Although the sources mentioned above offer an official definition of the word, in the inner city communities, a snitch carries a deeper meaning. Some people have become intensely upset to even hear of the term snitch and this is because the playful word that we used to tease each others as kids has developed into a dark code that criminals use to instill fear into many citizens today.

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To many a snitch is rendered as a “whistle”, a “rat”, and a “tattle tale”. How does this twisted mentality affect us?

In this paper, I will show how our community has been torn apart by this code of silence, explain the ways in which it is promoted and describe why we should all fight against it. Unlike baggy pants and tattoos that were first introduced through rappers and convicts, the “No snitching, no stitching” policy is a criminal code that was not widely accepted by one rap song.

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It is a reflection of mostly African American communities’ widespread fear of criminals who promise to harm or give people “stitches” if they “snitch” on them.

It is something that have caused a shift in the way people, thing act, and communicate with others, especially those whom have authority. As a young child you might have experienced bullying from school, or even at home by an older sibling. Your natural inclination might have been to readily tell an adult or your parents so that they may protect you. But then, as you think about running away to tell someone, the bully then whispers to you and say “if you tell someone imma beat you up”. How would you respond? Sadly this is a situation, that many youths are exposed to, not just locally, but worldwide.

They are becoming terrorized from an early age, and the thing that may seem as the easiest to do-to tell an adult, then becomes the hardest decision to make. Lets go back to that scenario. What if you have witnessed the bully bullying one of your close friends too? Will you then see it as your obligation to report the bully, or will you continue to be a bystander and watch as he/she harms all your friends due to the threat that he issued to you. For many, they don’t see the simple option of telling an adult because of fear. It is right to conclude that the no snitching attitude is instilled in people from early onwards.

Even after instituting the bully hotlines in hundreds of schools, a report shows that only 1 out of 30 students actually come forward with any information. The rest continues to live their life in fear, which hinders them to fully enjoy their youth. They then develop a feeling of insecurity, and become academically troubled. Psychologically many people claim to have their own reasons why they choose not to report to the police, the thought of even being labeled as a snitch by their peers drives these individuals to stay far from authorities.

“Snitches get stitches! , boldly stated 17-year old Tiana Matthis, after being asked how she felt about the term “snitches”. She went on to add “it’s the rule-and you follow it. If you break it, you face the consequences”. This incident may seem to be an insignificant time a young girl voiced out a saying that she learned in school. However, the problem is that this saying is inculcated in the social life of teenagers. This example stands as another proof that the “no snitching” law starts early. To many young ones, like Tiana, the idea that if you tell the authorities of another person’s crime, you will be punished.

Thus “no snitching, no stitching” has become a ‘law’ in many urban communities, that if not followed will bring about dire consequences. Why have many people justified this code? Many people think that everyone should be resolved to mind their own business. They believe that once someone try to ‘get involved’ in what occurred, then they are looking for trouble. Others say if you do not report it then you are proving your loyalty to them and your community. You might conclude that these are foolish reasoning, and they are!

To prove their loyalty, some innocent ones have went to prison and sentenced to many years of prison because they will not release any names to the authority. And where is the person that committed the crime? They are roaming freely in the streets without the fear of anyone “snitching” on him. “The no snitching” code is also known as the code of silence. Its development first begun in the hip-hop community and its message is clear-stop snitching! The term “snitch” have been hated throughout the hip-hop history, and still is today.

This hate have been revealed through heir lyrics, interviews and the t-shirts that they wear. According to journalist Rachael A. Worldoff;“snitching is related to witness intimidation, communities, neighborhoods, crime, African Americans, segregation, race social control, reporting to police, and hip-hop”. As the movement to stop snitching increases, the number reporting to the police is constantly decreasing, this thereby means that less crime are being solved. Although their have been crooked cops –cops that accepts bribe from someone that has money or power, it doesn’t take away from the fact that all of them are trained and paid to protect us.

But how can they fulfill their job if no one is cooperating? If anything were to suddenly happen to anyone, it might be that someone breaks into your home, your first reaction is to pick up a phone and dial 911. But when the police does arrive only a few people actually decides to testify so that the guilty person may be imprisoned. Others just dismiss the questions of the officers, and deny knowing anything about the robber, even if they did.

This then means that if the home invasion happened once, it can surely take place again, and the one doing this will do so with a free conscience. The are trying to make it cool not to take to the police” said officer Brian Sexton. And another officer, Maria Maher, added “a lot of people will not cooperate with the police because it is simply not the thing to do. This criminal code is also called the deadly silence. It has become the product of gang violence, and also race related violence. “The criminal code of “no stitching” deprives these communities of ways to protect themselves from criminals and to legitimately seek justice”. (pg 226. The hip-hop wars, 2008, Tricia Rose) The “no snitching” is clearly a self-defeating method.

People are not realizing that they are harming themselves by not cooperating with the police officers. There are two main reason why people do not “snitch; they want to prevent more trouble by withholding information that could lead to too much investigations and another one is that they fear what others may do to them and their family. Therefore they think they are protecting their family by keeping the guilty person from going to jail. But what harm can a person in jail cause? Little do they know that a criminal is not always satisfied with just knowing that he will not be told on.

The only way that he can surely do so, is by eliminating all suspect. Figures have shown that many criminals that have committed murder that have been eye witnessed by someone, the criminal comes back to also get the rid of that individual. That is why many people live in fear. They fear that the criminal will come back to harm them and make sure that no word is uttered and their life run in danger. And what best way to be free of the worry than to report to the officers and spare yourself from unneeded and unnecessary anxieties. There are many promotions of the No Snitching policy.

The police, who were earlier respected for their willingness to protect the community, are now seen as the enemy. This negative attitude is openly promoted by rappers and convicts alike. There are also T-shirts found on Websites showing anti-snitching messages such as “Snitches get Stitches and Ditches are for Snitches. ” Besides the people who detest the police, other citizens doubt whether the police have the means to properly protect them. A man named Pierre Hicks who says that snitching is banned in his neighborhood states, “Are they going to keep us safe when we tell them?

Then (the criminals) are going to be right back out there, and then they are going to need someone else to snitch. That's just the rules of the game. That's how it goes. "(Washington Post) Sadly, this is the reasoning of many people. They reason that as soon as the person they told on goes to jail they are only safe until that person comes out. These people don’t see that sometimes the person may never come out. These people have no faith in the law and no sense of justice. They ignore what is morally right and focus on what they deem right for themselves. The media has also played a role in promoting the “no snitching” mentality.

The propaganda instills in young people’s mind that this is the ‘cool’ thing to do. The media at times conflict viewers by promoting moral suggestions like “stay in school”, “don’t do drugs”, but when it involves celebrities, it take another stand in the issue. When celebrities follow the rule , and do what they previously stated as the ‘right’ things to do, they then portray them as soft and “corny”. This is the case of rapper Aubrey Graham, otherwise known as Drizzy Drake. A few years ago he was a victim of robbery. The media’s opinion of him then shifted.

In the recent presidential campaign, everyone was hoping to see a “change”. Change in what? Besides wanting a change in unemployment rate, lowering taxes, and bringing home the troops, people wanted to see a safer street, especially in urban communities. But how can they demand a change, when they themselves are not cooperating with the authorities? The change can only take place when citizens vow to play their role in building back the community. Thus, this means that they are willing to fearlessly testify against criminals.

Everyone is aware that the U. S is constantly on guard for terroristic reports. "The convictions of four men for conspiring to bomb New York synagogues vindicated the post-9/11 strategy of using an informant to identify individuals deemed likely to engage in terrorism and encourage them up to the point of arrest, legal experts said. After being approached by one defendant who said he wanted "to do something to America," the informant testified, he sought to gain their trust, urging them forward with gifts, scouting targets with them and eventually supplying them with dud bombs.

Undercover informants played similar roles in three other recent terrorism cases, helping develop, then foil alleged plots to detonate a bomb near Chicago's Wrigley Field, attack a federal courthouse in Illinois and blow up a Dallas skyscraper”, blogged Alexandra Natapoff. ( http://www. snitching. org) This clearly shows that reporting crimes doesn’t only help reduce unsolved crimes on a local base, but also protect the nation on a global base. Having informants, informs the U. S authorities of potential terroristic threats.

Thanks to these people, average citizens are able to live their lives without having to worry about terroristic attacks. If these informants out of love for their country and fellow citizens, are willing to protect people that they do not, how much more should we therefore, strive to protect those whom we do know, by reporting those who imposes a threat to the community. Reporting a crime doesn’t only protect fellow citizens, but also prevents the mental distress that comes with witnessing a crime.

California police now say as many as 20 people were present at the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside a high school homecoming dance last weekend. 10 people were involved in an assault in a back alley at the school that went on for more than two-and-a-half hours. 10 people stood around and watched without calling 9-1-1 to report it. Police say some witnesses took photos, while others laughed. That case has been hampered by the refusal of witnesses to come forward. These kids in Chicago also stood by and watched this teenager murdered - beaten to death in broad daylight - and did nothing.

Experts say the reason crimes aren't reported could be a social phenomenon known as "the bystander effect" that means the larger the number of people involved in any situation, the less will get done. The “bystander effect” also falls under the “no snitching” code. There have been countless reports of people who have stood there and beheld the crime, and have not been moved to report it to authorities. Some have even record the criminal behavior on their cell phones and uploaded it to youtube-a websites in which u can upload and share videos.

They view it as a social phenomenon, and have no conscience of right and wrong. People with such twisted mentality can be credited for being trained that reporting to authorities is wrong. At first it may appear that not telling is wrong, but overtime as a result of abiding by the “no snitching” code, people have become insensitive to crimes, and now sees it as “everyone has to mind their own business”. How do parents of victims feel about this mentality? And how can each of us try to influence one another to make it a safer community?

At first we have to make a resolve to do so. Speak to others about the benefits of reporting a crime to the authorities, start a movement! Although there are “crooked cops”-those that accept bribes from the community, there are also a higher percentage of those who truly desire to imprison criminals. Everyone have a relative or a friend that was wrongfully imprisoned due to the lack of people coming forward to report those who are the responsible for the crime. We must encourage such ones to cease to protect criminals, who will continue to do harm unless they are stopped.

It is not a matter of loyalty to the criminal, but it should be a loyalty to the community. Doing so will not only reduce crimes, but it will also contribute to a safer community for us, and the generation to come, eliminating fear and the many insecurities, and also sole investigations that have been a mystery for decades. You will not be labeled as a “snitch”, but rather, a good citizen. In addition, you will not have to worry about getting “stitches”, because what harm can a criminal do when he is behind bars? Therefore, let each one of us report crimes to the authorities, and clear the streets of criminals!

Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Cite this page

The No Snitching Act. (2017, Feb 24). Retrieved from

The No Snitching Act essay
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