Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

Rumor at school: Five steps to combat verbal bullying

Ask the Recap. Rumor at school: Five steps to combat verbal bullying. lavitrei-Shutterstock_3This girl at school started a rumor about me and it’s totally untrue. But everyone thinks it is true and they keep asking me about it. It’s making me so mad. My mom says to ignore it and that everyone will lose interest soon enough. But it’s all I can think about and I feel like there’s nothing I can do to stop it. What should I do?
-- L.K. USA

Depending on the nature of the rumor, this girl’s actions may qualify as verbal bullying. Different schools have different policies, but many take bullying seriously and make sure that bullies know that there are consequences for their actions. At the very least, check your school handbook to find out what your options are. And then talk to a teacher or coach you trust. 

girl gossip retro illustration, polka dots background lavitrei/Shutterstock

In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to keep yourself sane:

Prepare a response. That way, when someone asks you if the rumor is true, you won’t find yourself stuttering and blushing. If you say something funny—and then refuse to engage in any further conversation—the rumor stops right there.

Don’t react. If you’re walking by people in the hall who are whispering about you, don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing you squirm. Rumors (and the people who spread them) are all about getting a reaction. If you refuse to provide one, chances are that the rumor will die faster and you won’t be a target in the future.

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Deflect. Rumors try to make us into something we’re not, so deflect the power of a rumor by telling people who you are. If other kids inquire about the truth of a rumor, be prepared to share something true about you: “No, I wasn’t making out with Chris, but if you want to know about our basketball game against Smithtown, I can tell you all about my three-pointer.”.

girl gossip retro illustration, polka dots background lavitrei/ShutterstockStay positive. This may be the hardest of our five anti-rumor tactics. It’s also the most powerful. Rumors try to make us feel small and powerless. So find ways to stay positive: Make a list of your best qualities and tape it to your mirror. Or start a gratitude journal that keeps you focused on the good stuff in your life. Even a little bit of positivity in your day can make a big difference.

Remember that you’re not alone. A rumor may make you feel alone, but that doesn’t mean you are alone. Find a friend you can lean on; talk to an adult you trust; chat with your mom again. (Even if you don’t agree with her advice, remember that she is there for you.) You will get through this. And who knows: Maybe what you learn will enable you to help someone else who’s dealing with a similar problem.

Each year, more than 4,000 teenagers commit suicide, and dozens of bullying victims are among them. According to a study by Yale University, bully victims are between 2 and 9 times more likely to consider suicide. And each day, 160,000 kids stay home from school because of a fear of bullying.

60sR wants to know: What are you doing to help prevent bullying? Have you stood up for victims of bullying? Maybe you’ve started a group or a program to make your school a safer, more welcoming place to be.

Tell us about it here, and you could be featured in our anti-bullying campaign.

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