From the time our kids are toddlers, we spend a serious amount of time trying to steer them away from their natural instinct to tattle on their peers. But the more that comes out about Grant Acord, the Oregon teenager arrested this week for allegedly plotting to blow up his school in a plan that has disturbing shades of the Columbine massacre of 1999, the more I wonder if we should just let them run with it.
From the way he was caught to statements made by his fellow students at West Albany High School, "tattling" could have made the difference between life and death here. Literally.
His classmates have come out to tell the media that the junior had been talking about bombs and bomb-making for weeks! Some even admitted they probably should have been more suspicious than they really were before finding out just how close they came to death.
Fortunately someone put two and two together. Acord was arrested, cops have said, after a 911 tip that led them to a stash of bombs and an arsenal of weapons under the floorboards in the 17-year-old's bedroom.
A "tattletale" likely saved countless lives.
So maybe tattling isn't such a bad thing?
According to the cops, that's exactly how these types of plots are typically stopped. Tips about suspicious internet postings or bizarre statements are reported to law enforcement, cops move in, and another Columbine is stopped in its tracks.
We're raising kids in a post 9/11 "if you see something, say something" world. If they hear something coming out of another kid's mouth that doesn't sound quite right, our kids have to feel comfortable about telling an adult, instead of getting a lecture on minding their own business or feeling like they'll be labeled a narc.
Instead of chastising them for tattling, what we need to do is teach our kids when to tell and who they should be telling. We need to arm them, so they aren't second-guessing themselves after a high school classmate is arrested for trying to blow up the school.
Do you talk to your kids about reporting fellow students' behavior?
Image via Savara (deprecated)/Flickr