A few weeks ago I wrote a column about small towns and not gossiping.  This led to a conversation with my wife about children and tattling.  We do not want our children to be know as tattletales, but we do want them to report evil behavior.  Many of the “bad guys” also realize children do not want to be know as tattle tales and they use that to their advantage, thus they are often able to convince children to cover up evil deeds that are done to them.  Some of the most evil among them even try to convince the children that it was their fault that the sin occurred. 
-
Let us consider some scriptural passages as we try to sort out the difference between a child’s selfish complaints (what most people think of when they hear the term “tattletale”) and real sinful or dangerous situations that we must encourage our children to tell us about.  I Timothy 5:13 says, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.”  Look at the context of these tattlers.  They are running around as busybodies telling others about things that are nobodies business.  This is a far cry from a child telling his parents about a dangerous situation.
-
For example, a few weeks ago I had just finished putting some shingles on a roof and had set my air nailer down as I picked up other tools.  It was a careless move on my part because my 4 year old had been watching me use that tool and decided to pick it up.  It was a valuable lesson for me as a father to be more careful with my tools, but it was also an opportunity to warn him about how dangerous this tool is. 
-
I hope he really does understand how dangerous that tool is and that if one of his brothers ever finds it in the garage and tries to play with it that he will tell us right away so that we could stop someone from getting hurt.  This would not be a gossip issue, it would be a safety issue.  I would not scold him for tattling at a time like that.
-
What if a pedophile did something to one of our children.  I would definitely want them to share that information as well.  Children need to understand that if they tell someone that they will not be scolded for tattling.  This brings to mind Luke 17:1-2, “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!  It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” 
-
I hate to even think that anyone would put such a stumbling block in front of a child, yet we live in such a sin cursed world that even authority figures like coaches, teachers, pastors, and priests have done such deeds.  I cannot help but think of the words of the Apostle Paul, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” (I Timothy 5:20)
-
It grieves my heart to hear of the cover up at Penn. State, but let us be careful that we not train our own children to cover up evil and dangerous behavior because they are afraid of being called tattletales.