Safety and When it is Best to Lie

Every kid has been told not to lie, but if your safety was in jeopardy, would it be okay?

Camilla S. & Kaitlyn M.

Every kid has been told not to lie, but if your safety was in jeopardy, would it be okay?

Declynn G. and Jadyn K.

The year was 1942. Nazis were storming cities to find every Jew in hiding. A 50-year-old Christian named Corrie ten Boom put herself in danger and lied to help save over 800 Jews in the Netherlands. She deceived German law enforcement to help others, muddying the idea that it isn’t okay to lie. But where is that line drawn?  What situations justify avoiding the truth?

A vast majority of parents teach their kids not to lie, yet kids tell white lies all the time in everyday situations. And these lies aren’t nearly as justifiable as Corrie ten Booms. Her lies were morally acceptable because they saved lives. But if you cheat on a test and lie about it, is that equally acceptable? Of course not. If you’re not careful with the ease of a lie, you could easily wind up lying about anything. 

However, a life-threatening situation would be a more serious situation where it’s acceptable to lie because it’s a matter of safety. If lying was necessary to save yourself or a friend from danger, that is a major incident and a completely different kind of lie than lying about a test. 

Ivan Sandoval, a local police officer, has similar thoughts. “I believe it would be best to lie whenever your life is in danger,” said Sandoval.

Most people agree that safety comes first, and if there is a situation where your safety might be compromised, lying might be the best way out. According to Lifeiv, “It is perfectly acceptable to lie…in order to avoid risk/danger and to get to a place of safety.”  

If lying is acceptable for one’s physical wellbeing , does that justify lying for mental safety as well? Lying for mental health is not commonly discussed, and most kids might not know how to address the topic. 

“In a situation where I may have to say something to someone to avoid them making a poor decision. [For example,] I believe it’s okay to lie to a mental health patient in a time of crisis to prevent them from physically hurting themselves or others,” said local police officer Ivan Sandoval. 

If lying could save someone emotionally, then lying might be the only solution in that scenario.

“I would say the truth, but I would still sugar coat it, and make it really gentle,” said sixth-grade student Ella G. 

When a situation may compromise your mental or physical safety, lying may be the only reasonable option. If your safety could be compromised or to protect a friend or family member’s mental health, it might be acceptable to lie. Corrie ten Boom did the right thing in using deception to save many Jews. There may be a similar occasion where lying would be the ethical choice for you to make as well.