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:
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.