Remember those days when you were a teen and you and your friends made "talking behind another friend's back an art form. You pinky swore, you promised complete confidentiality, and god forbid when the word got out about what you said, you could always deny, deny, deny. You were clean, no proof, no record of that conversation, someone just made it up, after all you would never talk behind your friends back!!! She's your best friend!!!
Well those were the olden days of yore. Nowadays, the gossip is not only a text away, but it's also a screen shot away from being caught. So teens will send private messages on Facebook, instagram, twitter or just write a plain old text to their "best friend." The "best friend" just covering her/his ass takes a screenshot of the "I'm only telling you this" text/message for that, just in case moment, when some drama in a friendship requires payback. And that payback is in the form of the previous screenshoted confidential, promise you won't tell X what I just said! ready for pubic consumption.
Oy!!! I have had many calls about this dilemma from parents recently. Their teen, either the gossiper caught in his/her web of talking behind someone's back, or the teen who has been gossiped about and now feels angry, hurt, humiliated, and betrayed. ( even though a few weeks previous they were also called on some "private gossip.") Honestly, the whole thing makes my head spin. What can you do? You can warn your teens to gossip in person, not on their smartphone. Let them know that even though they "trust" their friends till the ends of the earth, shit happens. When teens feel betrayed, excluded, and hurt, they want to lash out and hurt the person who hurt them. You can't stop the gossip, but you can teach your teen to watch his/her own back. A good friend is only a good friend until they aren't!!!