Monday, January 10, 2011

Steps to respect shuts up malicious gossip

Despite proverbs about sticks and stones malicious gossip can be hurtful to children and adults alike, and, in the playground at least, can often lead on to physical bullying. Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle studied the effectiveness of a programme called Steps to Respect at reducing spiteful gossip. The programme encourages empathy, teaches assertiveness, emphasises that bullying is not a social norm and teaches children not to retaliate as this can make matters worse. Researchers used Palm Pilots to electronically record 610  Year 3 to Year 6 students' behaviour for five minutes, once a week, while they were in the playground. After the programme the children who had taken part in the Steps to Respect programme showed a 72% decrease in malicious gossip.

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