Why Is It Time To Abandon The Word "sneak"

A life 2022

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Why Is It Time To Abandon The Word "sneak"
Why Is It Time To Abandon The Word "sneak"

Video: Why Is It Time To Abandon The Word "sneak"

Video: Freddy is in our House! Sneak Attack Squad Tries Five Nights At Freddy's! 2022, December

Alexandra Savina

We are used to hearing from childhood that sneaking is bad - it is enough to recall the numerous variations of the counting-out rhyme about the "sneak-grunt". It is believed that children and adolescents should deal with problems on their own, involving outsiders - parents and teachers - only in extreme cases. "Malice" is usually perceived as an action directed against the collective (the one who complains about someone's behavior, as if "giving up" his own), or as manipulation and an attempt to take a higher position, for example, by sharing classified information with a teacher. First of all, we are talking about children's behavior, but many carry over attitudes concerning "sneaking" into adulthood.

Today, however, not everyone agrees with this point of view. Many experts insist that there is a fundamental difference between sneering and denunciations. What is commonly considered "sneakiness", especially when it comes to children, actually speaks of an attempt to restore justice - to tell about the violation of rules or someone's boundaries.


Psychologists note that snitching as a phenomenon develops with age. At the age of seven or eight, for example, children become very sensitive to the rules: they try to follow them and make sure that others also obey them unquestioningly. When a child sees that the rules are being violated, he is indignant at this and seeks to maintain the old order - and for this he turns to an adult. At an older age, by the end of primary school, according to experts, the child moves to the "level of moral relativism", realizing that the rules and punishments for them can be relative. We know that you cannot cross the road at a red light, but not everyone observes this rule. At the same time, it is believed that "sneering" fades into the background - for many, building relationships with other children becomes more important than rules. Experts believe that in a situation where a child has been taught not to sneak, he or she can, in principle, stop sharing problems and ask for help. At the same time, the child, in their opinion, is not obliged to cope with all the problems on their own - it is important for children to ask for help.

It is also important to understand that the view of "sneering" is closely related to cultural attitudes. In Russia, for example, he is almost always associated with denunciations in the USSR, which were part of massive repressive campaigns. The painful question of collective civic responsibility and how strongly the processes of the thirties influenced the Soviet people and continue to influence their descendants, of course, exists. But today researchers do not look at the problem of mass denunciations as unambiguously as the mass consciousness is used to assessing it. For example, they note that many denunciations were written under pressure and often the price was the opportunity to survive (or the illusion of such an opportunity).

In addition, during the Great Terror, the myth of mass denunciation was simply implanted by the authorities. The famous remark of Sergei Dovlatov about the four million denunciations that people wrote about their neighbors in the USSR is simply not true, it is not confirmed by the archives. The spread of rumors about anonymous letters, on the occasion of which the cult writer also went, was only a tool of propaganda and manipulation: an ordinary person had to believe that he was no better than the authorities.

Of course, “sneering” in primary school and denunciations as a political tool are incomparable both in scale and in consequences. But it is easy to imagine how the attitude towards one person influences the perception of the other: for example, a complaint about violation of the rules at school can be perceived as “betrayal” of the collective and “snitching”.

In a situation where a child has been taught not to sneak, he can, in principle, stop sharing problems and ask for help

At the same time, what we are accustomed to consider "sneakiness" almost never refers to "betrayal". "Malice" can be compared to the search for a mediator: psychologists recommend using a neutral third party to resolve complex conflicts, which will help to understand the issue and hear each other. In the case when it comes to "sneering", the adult to whom the children turn can serve as the same mediator.

Often it is simply a matter of civic conscience - for example, as in the case of the neighborhood watch system existing in the United States and Great Britain. The purpose of such programs is to help law enforcement agencies: it is assumed that neighbors who have signed up as volunteers observe what is happening in their area, and if they see anything suspicious, they report to the police. Such programs also have "excesses of performers", and it seems that this is exactly what in Russia it is customary to compare with "snitching". But the basis here is a fundamentally different idea: not to "substitute", but, on the contrary, to protect and help your community.

Of course, the motivation of “snitching” children can be more complicated: experts note that the desire to restore justice can be mixed, for example, with the desire to get attention. At the same time, the Shalash Foundation is confident that the idea that the complaining children want to annoy others in the first place is far from reality. First of all, we are talking about a problem or experience that the child wants to share, about injustice and breaking the rules.

Do not forget about the role played by those who enforce the rules: they build a system in which there are "informers" and "sneaks", "substituting" and "surrendering their own", even if "theirs" are, in general, then, a fairly random set of people who find themselves in the same class at the same time. Attitude to "sneaking" can become an instrument of power and control - for example, in the familiar formulation: "Answer who did it - if no one confesses, everyone will be punished." It seems that this is true only for school processes - but all these attitudes easily flow into adult groups. Although, it would seem, the office is a rather formal setting in order to use, first of all, general rules: they are needed precisely in order to help coexist in one space.

Do not forget about the role played by those who enforce the rules: they build a system of "informers" and "sneak" who "substitute" and "turn over their own"

One of the episodes of the podcast This American Life describes an experiment that was conducted in an American kindergarten. The teachers, tired of the number of children's complaints, which often related to minor incidents, decided to install a special "phone for snitching" - a cardboard box to which they attached a tube. Children could “call” it and tell them complaints, which, of course, no one heard.

Podcast journalist David Kestenbaum, whose child also went to the group, decided to find out what the children were complaining about by replacing a cardboard box with a phone that could record conversations - all parents supported his idea. At first, the children used the phone with enthusiasm: they not only talked about incidents, but just wanted to talk. Many children reported that they enjoy using the phone and that they feel better after talking.

True, after a month, they began to use it less actively. David Kestenbaum found a simple explanation for this. Before putting the phone in class, he set it up at home to try it out with his children. The children tried it a couple of times, but then they began to tell their father about everything again. When asked why the youngest son, Max, told Kestenbaum that the phone was not working. It was not about the technical characteristics - according to Max, the phone “does nothing,” that is, it does not bring justice.

PHOTOS: Wayfair (1, 2)

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