109 Gossip & Social Exclusion

Based on research by the American Psychological Association. Adapted by Juanita N Baker, Ph.D..

What is the impact on children being rejected by their peers?

A 2006 longitudinal study, by psychologists Eric Buhs and colleagues, tried to answer this question.  Following 380 students from age five to 11 years old, they found that children rejected by their peers are more likely to start trying to avoid classrooms and school to spare themselves more pain. Thus, they suffer academically. Although it is logical that children would reject shy or withdrawn peers, this study showed that exclusion could independently add to or increase the problems linked to social withdrawal. What’s more, peer rejection appeared in this study to be one of the strongest predictors of a child’s low academic success.

Additionally, while Research suggests that when younger children who are close friends gossip, they’re usually just venting and bonding 93% of the time, and don’t mean to hurt anyone. Gossip and rumor can have devastating effects by sending other kids spiraling down socially and academically and making them feel lonely, depressed and anxious.

Let’s teach our children how gossip and exclusion can hurt and encourage them to be inclusive of all, using their actions and their words with kindness.


Buhs, E., Ladd, G., & Herald, S. (2006). Peer exclusion and victimization: Processes that mediate the relation between peer group rejection and children’s classroom engagement and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1).

Cillessen, A. H. N., & Mayeux, L. (2004). From censure to reinforcement: Developmental changes in the association between aggression and social status. Child Development, 75, 147-163.

Dingfelder, S. F. (2006, April). Whispers as weapons. APA Monitor on Psychology, 62-63.

Eder, D. (1991). The structure of gossip: Opportunities and constraints on collective expression among adolescents. American Sociological Review, 54(4),494-508.

Underwood, M. K. (2003). Social aggression among girls. New York: The Guilford Press.

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