Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Anti-Bullying Program Reduces Malicious Playground Gossip


Click below for the transcript or to listen to the clip:


From the Seattle PI:

A group of psychologists at the University of Washington studied the way kids interact and came to this conclusion: Kids are big-time gossips.
They talk about who cheated on tests and who has "cooties." Often, they don't even try to hide that they're talking trash about a classmate at recess.
In short: Kids are a lot like adults, except they talk about cooties and get to take recess. (Hey, no fair!)
Researchers observed students at six Seattle elementary schools, and determined that gossip lessens when teachers integrate lesson plans that "encouraged empathy, teach assertiveness and emphasize that bullying is not a social norm."
The study split 36 classes into two groups; one group was exposed to the "Steps to Respect" bullying prevention program, and the other wasn't.
Here's what Karin Frey, an associate professor of educational psychology at UW, observed:
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."
Frey helped develop the Steps to Respect program in 2000, according to a UW spokeswoman.
"Gossip is an element of bullying, and it can lead to physical bullying," said Frey in a prepared statement. "Kids will tell you that gossip is just as painful as physical bullying."
She said teachers don't tend to think of gossip as a true form of bullying.

And look, a version of the article was featured in the ScienceBlog, the SeattleWeekly, the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel and United Press International.  Prefer your version en espanol? Click here