How to Teach Kids About Why Spreading Rumors Is Wrong

Rumors can be devastatingly harmful to a victim.

When rumors spread, it's hard to control the damage that ensues from the lies. The malicious spreading of rumors to hurt someone else fits the profile of bullying, according to the PBS Kids website. Help your child understand the potential risks and harm that can result from spreading rumors.

Talk about some common rumor tactics that your child might encounter with peers. Making personal or sensitive information public knowledge is a standard rumor, states the Scholastic website. A rumor might also begin with an outright lie or just a crafty exaggeration that stretches the truth enough to devastate a victim.

Discuss rumor-mongering methods to provide an overview for your child. If one child intentionally lures and manipulates a victim into sharing personal information or divulging a secret, this sets the stage for a story to spread through the peer network. Tell your child that rumors can spread by face-to-face contact, text message, social media and by instant messaging.

Explore with your child how the victim of a rumor probably feels when lies or embarrassing stories are circulating about her. This victim might be embarrassed, fearful, angry, distrusting and powerless to stop the progression of the rumor. Ask your child to imagine for a moment how she would feel if a rumor circulated about her.

Describe how other people can perpetuate a rumor, even unintentionally, by doing nothing to stop the spread of the rumor, according to the KidsHealth website. If people stand by in the face of rumors without standing up to them and trying to stop them, the rumors continue.

Explain to your child that it’s not necessary to like everyone and be friends with everyone. But even the people your child isn’t friendly with don’t deserve rumors to circulate about them. Using rumors to hurt others, retaliate, or elevate the self is a dishonest way to act, warns the KidsHealth website.

Encourage your child to treat others respectfully, kindly and fairly. By treating others in a respectful manner, your child is likely to gain solid friendships with peers.

Tell your child to report rumors to a school official or to you if she discovers a rumor circulating. If a rumor is a part of a bullying circumstance, the victim needs adult intervention to help stop the rumors and the behavior that fostered the rumors.