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Pssst! Here's How Rumors Get Started

'If you could wake up tomorrow and be someone different, who would you be?" The question pops up in one of the popular structured discussion groups at Ouachita Junior High School in Monroe, La.

Guidance counselors Robin Remedies and Rebecca Cox started the groups five years ago with a goal of tackling subjects important to students.

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Released from regular classes once a week, some 200 students gather in small groups to discuss such topics as how to make friends, dealing with anger, divorce, dating, tobacco, rumors, and peer pressure.

"In the rumors discussion," says Ms. Remedies, "five students leave the room, and one comes back to see a big action photo. We take the photo away, and that person reports what he saw to an outside student. Then that student tells another student, and then another.

"The students see and hear the distortions. Because most of the fights here start from rumors, we think this helps the students understand how rumors get started."

The impact, she says, is that "we head off a lot of problems with the groups. And students know us a lot better so they feel comfortable coming to us and talking about their problems."

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