Created By: jatay3 on May 4, 2011 Last Edited By: Monolaf317 on June 3, 2017

Thou Shalt Not Squeal

Don't Tell Teacher

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The greatest and most awful evil in the schoolboy code in a classic school story. An informant has sinned against the Nakama and will forever receive a Mark of Shame. This can be handled in various ways. Sometimes the Aesop of the story is that there are times to inform as when the other student is cheating or "doing something harmful to himself".

In the Crime and Punishment genre, this is the most important part of Honor Among Thieves.

Compare Don't Tell Mama.
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • May 4, 2011
    The Brady Bunch: Cindy learned An Aesop about not being a tattletale. Then they have to Unteach it to her in order for her to tell that the dog had stolen a registered letter that came for Alice.
  • May 5, 2011
    Related to the character types The Stool Pigeon (particularly the Obnoxious Oscar) and The Informant, both of whom are looked down upon (at the least) by others.

    A common story element is where the protagonists (who are children at the school) find out about misdeeds by other students and must take care of the problem themselves, because the code prohibits them from telling the teachers/administrators.
  • May 5, 2011
    Subverted in Recess. Gus sees that Randal was the one that started a food fight which got everyone in detention until someone says who did it. Gus tries to follow the "Kid's Code" and not tell. In the end he appears to give it up and everyone turns on him, however Ms. Finister reveals they'd caught the culprit via forensic science ...and that Gus was the only one who didn't turn Randal in, since Guru Kid had told everyone when Gus asked him for advice.
  • May 5, 2011
    The Stool Pigeon even mentions The Squealer.
  • May 5, 2011
    Needs A Better Title. "Thou Shalt Not Squeal" tends to have a Bible feel to it, as if this is a religious trope.

    Also, the title has no reference to school. It could refer to a criminal gang, The Mafia, or just a ghetto neighborhood where the code is "Stop Snitching".
  • May 5, 2011
    This can also happen with parents, not just teachers. How about Dont Be A Tattle Tale?
  • May 7, 2011
    ^^ It sure is treated biblically by a lot of kids though.

    I'd suggest the following for a page quotation:
    "The code of the schoolyard, Marge! The rules that teach a boy to be a man. Let's see. Don't tattle. Always make fun of those different from you. Never say anything, unless you're sure everyone feels exactly the same way you do. What else..."
    - Homer, from The Simpsons
  • May 7, 2011
    • The Trope Codifier for literature is probably Tom Brown's School Days, in which our protagonist is shunned by his classmates for a considerable amount of time because they (incorrectly) believe he's broken the code and squealed on Harry Flashman.
  • May 7, 2011
    I like the title, since kids do treat it as a kinda unofficial commandment.
  • May 8, 2011
    Agreed, I say keep the title.
  • May 8, 2011
    No Tattle Tales

    "Don't tattletale" is the more common phrase I've seen.
  • May 8, 2011
    Could also be called "Omerta", which is one of the better known Real Life forms.
  • June 1, 2017
    Not tropeworthy since it has no examples.
  • June 1, 2017
    ^ There are examples; they just haven't been added yet.

    Also, that shouldn't be an indicator unless it's deemed Too Rare To Trope.
  • June 1, 2017
    @Fanra: Stop Snitching originates from a real world video that was circulated among inner city neighborhoods in Baltimore City around the mid-2000s, about doing this.

    I would argue that this is not a kids only trope, as there are real life variants of this in the adult world as well.

    • Subverted nicely in Spectacular Spiderman when the football team learns Harry Osborn was using performance enhancers during the schools winning season, most of the team threatens him with this. In keeping in line with this seasons's Character Development, team captain Flash Thompson does snitch. His logic is Harry cheated and betrayed the team first, not him.

    • In Luke Cage, Misty laments that this is the rule of the street, and if she had a dollar for everytime she heard someone say "I didn't seen nothing". Comes into play as most residents of Harlem who don't like the trouble Luke brought to the neighborhood still refuse to turn him in, least the be seen working with the cops.

    • Sergeant Schultz of Hogans Heroes had "I see nothing" as his [[catchphrase]]. Unlike other examples, this Schultz was not part of the crew doing wrong but the guy who was supposed to stop them. The problem was that by the time he saw something, it had gotten so far out of hand that he would be transferred from the relatively safe position at a POW camp to the Russian Front for his incompetence.
  • June 1, 2017
  • June 1, 2017
    So um, is this limited to school situations or not?
  • June 2, 2017
    I would say definitely not, as the crux of the trope is clearly not limited to school yard situations. There's a good reason why informants on criminal gangs are given extra protection by law enforcement and negative actions against employees who whistleblow properly are counted as a form of discrimination in employment law. Should definitely be broadened to a situation where the person is explicit told or punished for his or her informing (as opposed to Have You Told Anyone Else, which can be set up so the audience knows the victim is informing the villain, but the victim does not... he could be unaware of the evil intention of his innocuous find). More over, the informant must be a part of the operation he or she is informing on, with full knowledge of the intended actions and outcomes. If they survive, they may become the Token Evil Teammate.

    • In Breaking Bad, Hector Salamanca is twice questioned by the DEA and twice proceeds to mock them rather than inform on any criminal operation. In fact, in both instances, working with the DEA would have directly benefited Hector, as it would remove his enemies without damaging his family's own criminal actions. Of course, Hector would then have to deal with his family having a known informant as a member, which is bad for a criminal enterprise.
  • June 2, 2017
    Compare Perp Sweating, for where some people want them to squeal.
  • June 2, 2017
    Film Animated
    • Disney's animated feature Robin Hood has the cute youngsters insist that worrywart Toby pledge to keep mum about an effort to surreptitiously retrieve a toy arrow from the palace grounds.
      Tagalong: Put your hand on your heart and cross your eyes.
      Skippy: Spiders, snakes and a lizard's head ...
      Toby: [repeats] Spiders, snakes and a lizard's head ...
      Skippy: If I tattletale, I'll die 'til I'm dead.
      Toby: [repeats] If I tattletale, I'll die 'til I'm dead.
  • June 3, 2017
    I like the Biblical-style trope name, but for me, "squeal" primarily means "scream" rather than "report a minor misdemeanour". Thou Shalt Not Tattletale, maybe?
  • June 3, 2017
    Wow, what a six year necro this is...