Hello-o-o-o, Tribelet! Welcome to After School Wednesday! If you're new, like SAMANTHA, you don't have to be the victim of bullying to be part of our campaign to stop the whole bullying thing. Meanness happens all around us -- even if you're homeschooled -- and we all want to be ready to deal with it, whether as a victim, a witness or even if you realize you might be doing some bullying yourself. Bullying is SO not okay -- and we're going to show the world.
Last time we talked about whether ignoring bullying helps -- and you've told us ... it doesn't. What does, besides what I offered in last week's post? Here's what YOU said:
* Tell a grown-up if nothing else works. HADASSAH did and her teacher told her she wasn't the only one who had come to her. And ... the bullying stopped.
* Pour your whole heart out to God -- even if it's in the restroom. NIMI was really helped by that.
* Use your one-liner and walk away. LARISSA highly recommends that.
Try it, Tribelet, when that girl keeps following you or that boy continues to be an absurd little creep. And let us know how it goes, will you?
Now, today's question, which was asked by LARISSA.
When my friends and I gossip, sometimes it starts rumors. How do I stop?
That's an area where I know I can help you. So here goes:
First of all, just so you know, spreading rumors about someone is a form of bullying. Every time something like this is said, the bullying is about to begin:
* "I heard -- from somebody who really knows -- that she ..."
* "I don't know if this is true, but I kinda think it is: She ..."
* "Okay. A told me that B told her that she actually saw C ..."
* "You are not going to believe what's going around about ..."
Yeah, as soon as those words are out of somebody's mouth, everyone else is leaning in -- eyes wide, ears even wider -- ready to hear the latest. This may be the second, third, or even fourth time the story's been told, but you can bet eadch time it's gotten a little bit juicier, just a tad longer, and probably a whole lot more false. A rumor grows like a tumor.
Did you know there's a difference between a rumor and a piece of gossip?
A rumor is a piece of information somebody passes on without knowing whether it's true or false. It could be something like, "I heard that if there's one more snow day, we have to make it up on a SATURDAY!" A rumor might be true, or a little bit true, or just a big fat lie.
GOSSIP is about somebody's personal life, and it's usually the kind of thing that makes people go, "No way! Really! Tell me some more!" It's always passed behind the person's back and it's really hurtful, whether it's true or not.
Gossip, my Tribelet, isn't news. REAL news is actually true -- something told because the person who starts it really cares about the girl she's talking about. If the teller actually gave a rip about her, she'd be talking to the person herself, not everybody else on the planet.
When somebody spreads gossip, it usually starts a rumor and then:
* Lies get spread. Never a good thing.
* The person being gossiped about gets her feelings hurt.
* Some people believe the rumor is true, and the girl they talk about gets a reputation she doesn't deserve.
* Once people have heard something from more than one person, it's hard to convince them it's not actual fact.
* Girls have actually had to CHANGE SCHOOLS because of rumors spread about them -- by their own friends.
It's actually pretty easy to follow some steps to fix this rumor thing. As soon as you hear a piece of juicy gossip:
STEP ONE. Find out if the "news" is true. Go straight to the person being talked about and ask her. "People are saying you're being suspended for cheating, and just so you know, I won't believe it unless you tell me it's true." OR just use common sense. Some things are so obviously false, they're ridiculous. "Olivia's mother has been married sixteen times." Oh, come ON!
STEP TWO: IF the answer is no, it isn't true, then simply STOP IT right there. Don't breathe a word of it, to anyone, and tell those gossipers they need to do the same. Start a new topic of conversation. ("Have you seen anything purple today?") Do whatever it takes to snuff out that rumor.
STEP THREE: IF the rumor is true, ask yourself: Will it help the person being talked about if I tell this to someone else?
If the answer is no, STOP IT right there: So what if it's true? If it could hurt her or embarrass her, it is just NOT okay to spread it any further. Change the subject. Even if you know it's an absolute fact, what good is it going to do the object of the rumor for you to tell everybody? It would probably totally humiliate her.
If the answer is yes, it WOULD help her if you told someone, then tell the RIGHT PERSON, usually an adult you can trust with the information. What if Ashley throws her lunch away every day because she says she's getting fat, and she's, like, skinnny as a pencil? If she won't get help when you tell her she should, go to the counselor yourself, or tell your mom who can talk to her mom. You and your friends can't fix Ashley.
To make that easier to remember, here's a diagram for healing the Rumor Tumor. (I'm sorry it's hard to see, but I think you'll get the idea)
We'll talk more about this in our next post. For now, this is a lot to work on. Let's start here --
What's the last rumor you heard?
What were the results of that rumor?
What could YOU have done to stop that rumor before it grew? (according to the steps above)
This isn't meant to make you feel guilty. YIKES, no! It's just that it's always important, before we try to make a change, to really look at ourselves and see where we are.
So will you share your answers to those questions? You don't have to go into personal details (you're really good about not doing that). It will help us to know we aren't the ONLY ones who sometimes let a tumor grow.