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Donna Oja Smith's English Class at Trenton High School

Snitchin' Is Bitchin' Trentonian Article June 10, 2007

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For The Trentonian

TRENTON - Donna Smith's English students at Trenton High School know all too well why city police have such a tough time getting witnesses to talk about crime on the street: It's called the G-Code, or Ghetto Code, and it demands silence in the face of authority.
All but one of her sophomores in a persuasive writing class rejected the mentality in compositions posted on Smith's Web page. But their writings make clear that the average teenager knows what's expected of them if they see a classmate vandalize something or a gangster shoot somebody.

"Stop Snitchin" is constantly advertised, preached, and practiced in urban environments because of the influence of rappers," one student wrote. "If adolescents reported even half of the crimes that they witnessed, crime rates would decrease dramatically because the criminals would fear getting caught and stop committing crimes," wrote another. "The witness wouldn't have to worry because the criminal would be locked in jail where they can do no harm."

According to the, the G-Code is a "set of rules to live by; a code of conduct for surviving on the streets." It credits to rap artist B.G. with making it famous with his song "Heart of da Streetz," which contains the lines "I live by the G-Code, I die by the G-Code, don't rat, don't snitch, don't bend, don't fold."

The one Smith student who supported the G-Code said: "MYOB stands for mind your own business. Children in the hood grow up with this. Snitches get stitches."  Smith, a Trenton High language arts teacher since 1993, knows all this from personal experience, of course. She told of a student who kept throwing things over a classroom partition, creating havoc, and no one owning up or pointing the finger when she started looking for the culprit.

Her threat of detention for the entire class prompted one student to step forward with the name. Smith later came to realize, however, that she might have done more harm than good because the student was found out and branded a "snitch."

"They are taught to mind their own business and taught not to tell," said Smith, who assigned her students to write essays on the subject and then posted them under the heading "Snitchin is Bitchin," meaning a good thing. Found at, the site had recorded nearly 8800 visits by Friday.

From her vantage in the classroom, Smith said she has also learned that some of her best and brightest students harbor a resentment toward authority, especially police, that is not conducive to crime fighting. "Even one of my best students, who is an honor student, believes the Trenton police are the enemy," she said. Frank Clayton, the ex Trenton detective who now heads the Mercer County prosecutor's gang squad, said he'd never heard it called the G-Code but certainly is familiar with "snitchin" and the difficulty of getting some witnesses to talk.  But one thing that works, said Clayton, is the threat of spending the rest of their youth in prison: "If you have leverage on these guys, they will give it up after a while. I don't care how ghetto they are, they will give it up." The latest good example is the conviction of all the Bloods gangsters involved in the arson-murder of a father and his two little girls. Prosecutors made the case on the testimony of gangsters who broke the G-Code, of course.

The students know that also, as indicated by these other excerpts from the compositions:
"The more the G-Code is practiced, the more the crime rate will increase, giving permission to commit crimes. Indeed, the perpetrator is in the safety zone. But we are not."  


"If you're brave enough to tell a cop what you saw, then that shows you're more responsible than all the other little punks who think street credibility is more important than their futures."


"Friends and family tell you not to be a snitch or a tattletale, but as you get older you have to realize not all snitching is a bad thing."

"He who learns but does not think is lost! 
He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger!" 
Confucius 551-479 B.C. (Chinese philosopher)


"YOU make choices, but  CHOICES make you." (DOS)
“Men are not prisoners of fate, but prisoners of their own minds.” (FDR)