Expert advice: Take school gossip, bullying seriously

By Aisha Sultan
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Our culture glorifies gossip — from shows like “Gossip Girl” to websites created just so people can anonymously post rumors about others. Gossip-mongering sites like are considered sources of “news” for millions.

There’s a cost with our collective gossip obsession: Thousands of children are harassed by classmates, impacting their ability to learn and their self esteem. And too many well-intentioned parents tell their children to ignore the nasty rumors, false gossip, and bullying.

Back-to-school can mean a time of fear and dread for children who have faced this type of torment. And with online networks such as Facebook and MySpace, bullies can now spread rumors and harass victims on a much larger scale than ever before — from the comfort and anonymity of their rooms.

What do parents need to know about gossip and other forms of bullying to keep their kids safe? Here are some tips from Sam Chapman, author of The No-Gossip Zone:

    Words do hurt. Chapman writes: ”Verbal bullying, such as name-calling or rumor-mongering, can be just as devastating as physical violence. Being the victim of malicious gossip, both at school and online, is so disturbing that some children have even committed suicide as a result.” Parents should not react dismissively or underplay it if their child hints that something like this is happening to them at school. 

    Gossip can affect a child’s future. Two out of five girls have had sexual rumors spread about them. Even if the rumors are completely false, the label is so powerful that it can change the trajectory of a young girl’s life and forever alter her feelings about her body and sexuality.

Full story.


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