Life Advice



Ask Amy: Mom wonders whether to snitch on teens

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I'm a mom of a young teenager. I've worked hard to foster a sense of trust and accountability.

I've asked my teen to be open with me about the actions of friends and acquaintances, good and bad, and have promised that in return for their honesty, I will not "snitch" unless a friend is in a serious situation (e.g. threats of suicide, hard drugs, weapons, pregnancy, etc.).

Recently my teen shared with me that some friends are starting to vape, experiment with pot, and sometimes receive sexually explicit material from other teens (or people pretending to be teens, I suspect).

I am grateful that my teen is open with me.

However, I never expected that my request for honesty would open up so many credible examples of "good" kids doing bad things, including possibly being victims of sextortion.

I want to run to these parents and tell them what's happening, but I don't want to break trust with my child and make that child a "snitch" in the mind of the local youth.


Can you help me navigate a path that allows me to share what I've learned with parents while not making my child the bad guy – and not breaking the trust I have with my child?

– Torn in CA

Dear Torn: So far, the things your child is telling you about are within the norm for many teens, who do experiment, push boundaries, and definitely try things that they know they’re not supposed to do. They are surrounded by messages that they should not vape, smoke, drink alcohol, or use pot. And yet – “good kids” do these things.

So far, you have not received any reports of “threats of suicide, hard drugs, weapons, pregnancy, etc.,” and so I don’t see any need for you to freak out and alert other parents.


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