A Forum For Community Issues : Youth : OPINION : Would You Rat on a Friend?

<i> Compiled for The Times by Erik Hamilton and Catherine Gottlieb</i>


Senior, 17, Century High School,

Santa Ana

I think I’d be involved in ratting when the activity would be a threat to other students, to myself or even to the person I’d tell on. I would definitely tell if it had to do with drugs or guns because I have a younger brother in this school and I wouldn’t want him to be exposed to that kind of threat. I don’t really like that word ratting. In our society, if we tell on someone it’s considered ratting on them and it’s bad. But it’s not bad because if there’s a problem like drugs or guns you need to tell someone so that other people won’t get hurt or so that they can get help.


Senior, 17, Garfield High School

Los Angeles


I don’t think I would tell on friends if they did something wrong. To me, friendship is more important than telling on someone. It would be a betrayal of their trust if I did. Maybe I would talk to them about what they did, but I would not consider telling on them.


Sophomore, 16, Orange High School,

City of Orange


My friends would probably have to really hurt someone for me to tell on them. It has to do with the issue of trust. It would have to be something pretty bad for me to risk losing a friend. I’ve seen people fighting. I would try to get them to back off before I would tell on them.



Senior, 18, Garfield High


It depends on what they did. If it involved hurting or killing a human being, then I suppose I would. But anything else, it’s not worth it. If they cheat on a test or steal a candy bar, nobody cares. And I don’t think things like that, cheating on test or stealing or writing graffiti is worth putting a friendship on the line. Maybe I would tell my friends that they didn’t have to steal because I would have bought it for them if they wanted it bad enough. But I wouldn’t tell on them. It’s just not that important.


Sophomore, 15, La Mirada High School


I am the type of person who chooses friends carefully. If one of my friends was involved in a wrongdoing, I would discuss the matter with him or her to read between the lines and encourage him or her to change. I would definitely turn a friend in if that person was involved in a serious matter. However, if it was something small, such as gossiping or lying, I wouldn’t tell the other person about it because you could get in a lot of trouble. Some considerations would be whether or not I could remain anonymous and what would be done should I turn my friend in. I would have to force my mind to believe the fact that this person is my friend is irrelevant; hopefully, my heart would believe me.


Sophomore, 15, La Mirada High

If life were strictly black and white, it would be simple to either turn in my friend or not. Unfortunately, there are countless shades of gray. I could just cut to the chase and say, “Yes, I would turn them in.” Anyone could. When it actually comes down to the wire, would I? If it was life-threatening, I would obviously be forced to turn them in, or would I? After all, they’ve entrusted me with something, shown confidence in me. Could I break that? If it was nothing too serious, I couldn’t turn them in. What harm could one little thing do? In life, the only person who can truly answer that question is you.

My response would have to depend on the situation. I do believe, in the end, my answer is like that of the trooper: “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”