Gossip: The New Bullying?

Ryan Fan, Sports Editor

As a community, the Three Village Central School District has clearly displayed an ardent anti-bullying outlook. It has made clear the severe consequences a bully will suffer, in addition to educating students and parents about bullying. Bullying has always been a problem in schools, and the Three Village community, in most cases, has done a great job of preventing it by promoting awareness and imposing punishments.

However, among many students in the Three Village community, and particularly in Ward Melville High School, bullying may be overlooked because its severity has seemingly subsided tremendously.

“Although it happens, it isn’t as big a problem as many assume. I feel that although bullying is a serious issue, it has become less of a problem overtime with more awareness being brought up about it,” stated 2014 graduate Brian Dolan. Again, the community has done wonders in raising awareness to this pressing issue. Yet, is this urgency again required now?

Students today are often less likely to directly abuse or haze another because they are keenly aware of the repercussions associated with such actions. Most bullies do wish to cause some harm, but not often at the expense of their own benefit. In addition, because of the tremendous growth of awareness, bullies now are usually socially punished (ostracized or shunned) by their friends and peers. Thus, bullying has been minimized to a large extent, but does that mean that students are bereft of any form of abuse?

 As bullying seems to diminish, another form of abuse has taken its place: gossip. “While you’ll still come across name-calling in the hallways, the general trend is moving towards bullying through gossip,” said Samuel Wu, a 2014 graduate.

Gossip, in addition to bullying, can be extremely detrimental to the welfare of the student community. Most victims will feel “betrayed” by others when they discover that they had been the subjects of gossip. Their trust of gossipers wavers tremendously in these situations, and they become more and more cynical as time goes on. Furthermore, subjects of gossip, upon discovering the gossip, suffer from a blow to their self-esteem.

In our community today, gossip has become so embedded into our natures that it has become inherent. Students verbally attack various people from their best friends to their worst enemies, all without their knowledge, and the temptation to gossip is immense. There are no consequences-what can someone else possibly do about it? When a student gossips, he/she isn’t necessarily “hurting” anyone, so what’s the harm in it?

The reality is that a community, in this case a school community, will always need some sort of outlet to voice displeasure. In the case of bullying vs. gossip, as of now, gossip is seen as the lesser of the two evils. Yet, school administrators must be cautious in proceeding in their approach to gossip. Faculty members and administrators may not be privy to the gossip that is being spread.  Teenagers usually gossip to people they are comfortable casually conversing with, such as a peer, friend, or family member, not a faculty member from whom they seeks to gain favor. “More emphasis should be put on gossip, but I don’t see how you can really control that,” stated senior Peter Hsu. It is a fantasy that we as humans can completely eradicate gossip.

Yet, there is only one group of people that is capable of controlling gossip in the student community – students. We are the ones aware of the various rumors that disseminate throughout our school, and as a result, we are the only ones that can possibly stop it. In the latter part of his statement , Brian Dolan asserts, “Gossip has taken over as the more prevalent problem in society, and in current society, we have kids who no longer are able to listen without telling. This problem must be addressed in order for this country to have a brighter tomorrow.”