Rules for Snitching

Not cooperating with the police is standard in too many communities -- but there are exceptions, say researchers who spent three years talking with kids in Philadelphia's toughest neighborhoods.

 
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So youths feel caught between warring factions, unsure whether making alliances with either will improve their lives. A young man named David, who was not involved in hustling but had many friends and peers on the streets, put it this way: "I don't support either side of it. I think it's like kind of a broken dichotomy, like you have two choices and both of them suck, and it has to do with the way things are set up in this city and in this world. But, so, we need to start looking at other options."

The only thing everyone agrees about is this: Philadelphia's street wars aren't over.

Maria Kefalas is director of the Richard Johnson Center for Anti-Violence at Saint Joseph's University and founder of Philadelphia Youth Solutions Project. Patrick Carr (Rutgers University-New Brunswick), Susan Clampet-Lundquist (Saint Joseph's University-Philadelphia) and Kefalas lead the Stop Snitching Research Project, funded through an Edward R. Byrne Memorial Grant from the Department of Justice, named after a New York City police officer killed in the line of duty while protecting a witness.

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