People should not be ashamed to snitch on cheaters

May 23, 2019 — by Sofia Jones

To snitch or not to snitch?

That was the dilemma facing students in one of Kellyann Nicholson’s biology classes two months ago when it became known that a student stole a set of test answer keys off her desk. In response, Nicholson was forced to change all of her tests as well as the style of homework she assigns.

About a month ago, a student anonymously shared with environmental science teacher Kristen Thomson that many of her students had leaked specific questions about the APES final onto a shared Google document. In response, Thomson gave her students a week to share with her who the culprits were, and after a week of silence, she gave some of her classes an additional “pop final” to see how well they would do with no prior knowledge of the questions.

Although some students are fairly certain of the identities of those behind these incidents, all students involved in both incidents chose to remain silent, either out of personal connection to the individuals who cheated or just a fear of being called a snitch. Many hope that others have the courage to step forward rather than resolve the situation themselves.

The truth is that those who shame others for snitching are tacitly defending cheating. People should not be condemned by their peers for turning cheaters in.

The word “snitch” has a negative connotation when all it means is for someone to speak up. Any student who makes the decision to cheat is fully aware of the possible consequences, so they should not act shocked or angry if they are actually forced to face whatever consequences may follow if they are caught.

Even if the cheaters continued their habits consequence-free, they would still be harming their peers for classes that grade tests on a curve. If a snitcher’s grade suffers due to a cheater’s actions, he or she should not be condemned for snitching to change the situation.

It can be easy to assume that someone who puts their peers in trouble is heartless, inconsiderate and disloyal, but ethical concerns aside, there are legitimate reasons to want to put an end to these dishonest behaviors.

Seeing people cheat and do well can make honest students feel like dupes. Putting in hours of effort studying also feels less rewarding when some people take shortcuts to receive the same or better grade.

As a school, we are only as strong as our weakest link. By allowing cheaters to prosper, an environment is created where cheating is acceptable and expected. If people know that they will face backlash from their peers for cheating and they realize that they could not get away with it, fewer people would feel inclined to cheat and risk being treated as an outcast.

Whatever punishment a cheater receives is warranted, as they broke not only a basic rule of academics, but also the trust of their peers. They make life more difficult for the teacher, who has to figure out a proper way to combat the issue in the future, and it creates unnecessary stress and punishment for innocent students.

So is it OK to snitch? The correct answer is yes.

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