Well, obviously the person who commits a crime is responsible for his or her actions. There are, however, other people who hold some to equal responsibility for the commission of a crime, as those who committed the act.

A person who witnesses a crime or who has certain knowledge of a crime and does not report it is responsible for that crime and every other crime that person commits thereafter, because of their failure to report it. It is called aiding and abetting. If that person reports it, but that individual gets away or is not found guilty (through no fault of the witness), the witness is relieved of responsibility for that criminal’s actions.

Fictional example: Spiderman witnesses the crime in action of the man who later kills his uncle.

Seriously, it can be that simple. It is more than possible for you to witness the criminal activities of an individual who later causes harm to you or a family member. If this happens and you fail to report it, you have to live with that guilt.

Does that mean that you should report someone, because you think they look like they did something wrong? Probably not. People often wear a guilty expression on their faces for a sundry of reasons that may have nothing to do with a crime or criminal intent, such as forgetting to take out the trash. Now, if they react guiltily to mention of a criminal act, that is something else again.

If you intend to report someone on suspicion of a crime, do you say… “that person did it!”? No, you report the facts only and don’t make something up. If the wrong person is put away, because you made something up, you are again guilty of aiding and abetting the crimes of the actual perpetrator from that moment on (though not the original crime if you were not a witness to it).

Well what if that person threatens you or your family? Such a threat is a serious reason for concern. If you let that person get away with it, even if you never tell a soul, you and your family remain in danger every day. Even if that person goes to jail because of some other reason, you and your family could be in danger and you have the added joy of living in fear and guilt. Far better to turn them in, get them off the street, and hope they keep them there forever. Though in such a case it might be prudent to find a job elsewhere.

What about the fear of being called a stoolie, stool pigeon, nark, squealer, or whatever other nifty name they can come up with? Who benefits from intimidating people with these “names” and threats of retaliation? The criminal element, that’s who. Who benefits from keeping children ignorant of their rights to an education, the ability to earn a living, and the right to a better life? The criminal element… and those politicians who seek to benefit from the frenzy of an uneducated mob (oh wait… again, part of the criminal element).

Who benefits from people who are afraid? Bad people.

If you hang out with people who are concerned with or worried that people might “nark” on them, they are probably not the best people to spend time with. Concerned that no one else will give you the time of day? Well, it is likely because of the kind of people you run with. Of course it could be that you’ve made yourself frightening to look upon in some other way, but most people can make friends, even if they were born with an *ugly mug, once people get to know them by their actions, reactions, deeds, etc.

* Beauty is only skin deep. Beauty lasts only a short time, but personality endures. No one wants to spend time with a spiteful and vindictive person, but everyone wants to spend time with a beautiful soul.