Eliminate the Word Tattling 4

Word Press had what is your favorite word as a prompt a few days ago.  I do not have a favorite word, but I do have a least favorite one.  Well technically I guess it is a more than one word although they are all related to the same root word and meaning.  The words are: tattling, tattle-tale, tattle.  I think we should ban them from schools after second grade and replace them with informing, telling or reporting.  The reason I say this is because bystanders are so important to the safety of victims of bullying, yet too many do not speak up for fear of being labeled a tattle-tale in addition to fearing the bully

I think these words and their connotations discourage our children from reporting bullying. Kids do not want to be labeled as a tattle-tale. I suggest instead of using the word tattling, we talk to children about when to tell and when not to tell. Reporting someone who is harming others is sometimes necessary.  For instance, if you see a child being beaten by others and no one is coming to the child’s rescue, you definitely need to find an adult to help. You also need to find a way to help when someone is repeatedly ganged up on by other children even if it is not physical.

This goes back to the post I wrote about bystanders which you can read if you missed it:

The Importance of Bystanders | dswalkerauthor.

Informing, telling, or reporting to protect someone has a better connotation than tattling. Although criminals might not like informers, most of the rest of us are grateful for them. This is especially true when they take murders and drug pushers off the street.  This is not to imply that bullies are murders or drug pushers, but honestly what they do to the most vulnerable children is almost as bad.

I also still think the schools need to reward the bystander who does speak up with a tangible reward. Let me know what you think. When you were younger would you have been more likely to report someone being mean to another child if you knew you would not be called a tattle-tale, and instead might be rewarded and maybe even be someone’s hero?

Addendum: The video originally included in this post is no longer available. Basically it was a short segment by a group teaching children about reporting versus tattling.


  1. I liked the video and how she explained the difference. I know this rule was established in my home when my children were growing up and now my daughter goes through the same rules with her children.
    I don’t particularly like the word either and I’ve seen practices by teachers that were humiliating to children when hey thought they crossed the line.

  2. Oh, I don’t like that word either.

    This isn’t exactly related to bullying, but our elementary school has instituted a policy where anyone (student, staff, parent, etc) can go to the school counselor with concerns about any student (and it can be done anonymously via a note left in her mailbox) and she will follow up to see if anything needs to be done.

    It sounded kind of weird to me at first, and I don’t know if I’m making it sound stranger than it is. Basically, the idea is that if you know someone is having a difficult time and think they may need some help but for any reason aren’t able to talk to them about it yourself, you can reach out to the counselor to be aware of the situation and help as needed.

    I really appreciate that they are being open about the fact that difficult situations will arise and people may need help dealing with them and that’s okay. And some of the kids they help may have ended up taking their frustrations out on other kids, so maybe it will have some impact on bullying as well.

    Sorry to get so far off topic. 🙂

    • The word is awful! I don’t think your comment is off topic at all. I think you have a point in that helping people deal with their problems may help prevent some bullying. When my son was still in elementary school, their counselor had a mailbox outside the character education area where children were encouraged to leave her notes. They all love her, as she always makes a point of getting to know all of the kids, so many do leave her notes.

      I also saw a few videos about schools using anonymous reporting of bullying via websites. It makes perfect sense to me that this could help. I want to do my gratitude post tomorrow, but I may do a post about this later or I may just tweet it. I haven’t decided yet. I really am glad more schools are taking active roles in change.

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