The study, led by the University of Washington, is the first to show that the widely-used Steps to Respect bullying prevention program can curb children's gossip, an element of playground culture often seen as harmless but capable of causing real harm.
"Gossip is an element of bullying, and it can lead to physical bullying," said Karin Frey, a UW research associate professor of educational psychology. "Kids will tell you that gossip is just as painful as physical bullying."
But teachers tend to not view gossip as a significant form of bullying, Frey said. Since gossip can lead to physical bullying, she and her collaborators investigated whether the program would help suppress teasing, name-calling, rumor-spreading and other ostracizing chitchat.
The study, published in the winter issue of School Psychology Review, showed that having supportive friends and not choosing retaliation when victimized by malicious gossip helped participants in the program avoid further victimization.
Researchers used Palm Pilots to electronically record second-by-second observations of 610 students in grades 3-6 at six elementary schools in the Seattle area. Researchers recorded each child's behavior on the playground for five minutes once a week for 10 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring.
"Gossip is surprisingly visible, because you have to have more than one person, and it can last awhile," said Frey, who led development of the Steps to Respect program in 2000. "Is the cootie girl in your class?" and "Did you hear Dan cheated?" are two examples of children's gossip Frey and her co-authors mention in their paper.
Not all gossip is strictly behind the back, though. The researchers also found that sometimes gossips will huddle together and clearly talk about a victim. "Without speaking loudly enough that others will know what they are saying, they'll point and look at the person they're gossiping about," Frey said.
After observers heard gossip on the playground in the fall, the anti-bullying program began in half of the 36 classrooms. During three months, teachers taught Steps to Respect lesson plans that encouraged empathy, taught assertiveness and emphasized that bullying is not a social norm.
In a questionnaire for students, the researchers measured two factors that influence bullying: beliefs about fighting back against bullies and having supportive friends.
When students' playground gossip was observed in the spring, children in the Steps to Respect classrooms had 234 fewer instances of gossip per class of 25, or a 72 percent decrease in gossip among students who had gossiped before participating in the anti-bullying program.
"Gossip is still there, but it's better," Frey said. "That's going to make a difference in the life of a child."
Kids may mistakenly subscribe to the "don't get mad, get even," philosophy. But since victims who retaliate often end up bullied even more, Steps to Respect teaches kids to not fight back. Frey and her co-authors found that gossip victims in the fall who went through Steps to Respect in the winter were less likely to believe in retaliation as a response to bullying, and more likely to avoid being a victim of gossip in the spring.
Having supportive friends also helped gossip victims. "Maybe friends use their assertiveness skills and say, 'Come on, let's go,'" Frey said.
Frey said that bystanders are really important in decreasing gossip and bullying, but many times bystanders feel uncomfortable and don't know what to do. Bystanders' silence can give a lot of power to bullies, but if bystanders speak up, the bullying stops.
"Stand up straight, look the bully in the eye, and say 'knock it off,'" Frey said. Friends who encourage victims to retaliate, on the other hand, may inadvertently set victims up for continued bullying, she said.
Co-authors of the paper are Sabina Low, assistant professor of psychology at Wichita State University, and Callie Brockman, graduate student in clinical psychology at Wichita State University.
For more information, contact Frey at 206-367-8409 or email@example.com.
Information on the Steps to Respect anti-bullying program: http://www.cfchildren.org/programs/str/overview/
Molly McElroy | EurekAlert!
The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences