Here is a story scenario you can use to help teach about the importance of checking your facts when rumors are being spread, Basic Needs, working for a WIN-WIN Outcome, and the Peer Mediation process. Brittany discovers that either Christy or Sarah has spread a false rumor that she has cheated on her boyfriend named Corey. Will Brittany discover who really started the rumor and why? Will Corey believe that she was innocent and take her back?
I. Read Basic Needs story: A False Rumor about Brittany
A. Teacher reads story to the class called “A False Rumor about Brittany.”
B. Story Description: Brittany discovers that either Christy or Sarah has spread a false rumor that she has cheated on her boyfriend named Corey. Will Brittany discover who really started the rumor and why? Will Corey believe that she was innocent and take her back?
Chapter 1: Brittany confronts Christy about a False Rumor
Brittany walked up to Christy, shoved her shoulder, and stated angrily, “I heard what you said about me.”
Christy, asked, “What do you mean? What did I say?”
Brittany snapped, “You said that I’ve been cheating on my boyfriend.”
Christy said, “I did not say that.”
Brittany, unconvinced, said, “Yeah, right. You know you did.”
Christy said, “Brittany, I never did say that. I don’t even know who your boyfriend is. So how would I know if you have been cheating or not?”
Brittany said, “My boyfriend is Corey.”
Christy said, “Oh, well, I didn’t know that. You’re so popular with the guys, I can’t keep up with which guy you like now.”
Slightly appeased, Brittany said, “Well, Sarah said that she heard you had been telling Corey that I was cheating on him.”
Christy asked, “Who did she hear that from?”
Sounding very frustrated, Brittany said, “I don’t know. I didn’t ask.”
Christy said, “I don’t mean to start something with Sarah, but maybe she’s the one who told Corey you were cheating. Maybe she’s trying to start something with Corey so she can get him. Or maybe she’s trying to start a false rumor about me. But I promise you, I did not talk to Corey about anything. Like I said, I didn’t even know who you were going out with.”
Brittany calmed down somewhat and let Christy go on her way. But her frustration mounted when she thought about how mad Corey was with her right now because of this false rumor. She wondered if Christy was right. Did Sarah lie to her? Did Sarah want Corey for herself? She didn’t know who to believe.
Brittany became aware that everyone was rushing. The tardy bell was about to ring. She rushed off to Math class, but had a hard time concentrating. Five minutes was just too short between classes to carry on much of a conversation. She couldn’t wait until she got to high school the next year when she would get ten minutes between classes.
Chapter 2: Brittany next confronts Sarah about the False Rumor
After math class, Brittany sought Sarah out at her locker. She asked, “Sarah?”
Sarah said, “Yeah, Brittany?”
Brittany asked, “Who told you that Christy told Corey that I was cheating on him?” Brittany carefully watched Sarah’s eyes shift as she responded.
Sarah said, “Well, uh, I’m trying to remember.”
Brittany began to believe that Christy had probably been right. Either Sarah was lying about Christy or Sarah herself had told Corey that lie. Either way, Sarah was trying to make trouble.
Sarah hedged, “I can’t remember right now. A lot has happened since yesterday.”
Brittany probed, “Sarah, what do you think of Corey?”
Taken off guard, Sarah, said, “I think he’s adorable. He’s one of the cutest guys in the 8th grade.” Then seeing Brittany’s probing look, she countered, “Uh, you’re very lucky to have him.”
Brittany said, “But I don’t have him anymore, do I? Because of this false rumor that someone spread, he’s totally angry with me. I just wonder who it is spreading this false rumor? Maybe it’s someone who wants to get Corey for herself? Could that be you, Sarah? Are you the one who wants him?”
Sarah tried hard to act all innocent. “Brittany, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t tell Corey anything about you.”
Brittany got disgusted with all the lying and all the rumors. She flounced over to Corey who carefully had his back turned to her. She said, “Corey, may I talk to you for a moment?”
Corey turned around, still feeling hurt about what he had heard. He said, “What is it, Brittany?”
Brittany said, “Look, I don’t know who it was told you I was cheating, but it isn’t true. I would never cheat on you because I really like you. You were the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. Why would I want to mess that up?”
Corey sounded slightly appeased. He said, “Well, Sarah said she saw you flirting with Brian.”
Brittany, realizing she didn’t have much time before the next tardy bell would ring, said, “She’s lying to you. She also lied to me as she told me that Christy was the one to tell you that rumor.”
Corey said, “I haven’t talked to Christy in awhile. No, it was Sarah who told me. Is it true? Were you flirting with Brian?”
Brittany said, “No, Corey. I don’t have any interest in Brian at all. I only like you.”
Corey suddenly smiled that wonderful smile that made Brittany’s heart feel all fluttery. She knew that everything was going to be okay with the two of them. As for Sarah, she would deal with her another time.
Once again, she noticed that rush of students to class. She and Corey squeezed hands quickly and then he rushed off to American History class and she rushed off to Science class just in the nick of time before the tardy bell rang. She was so relieved that Corey and she were back together again. Why did people have to spread false rumors anyway? She wished people would just find it in their hearts to only tell the truth.
Christy was in her Science class. Brittany went over to her and quickly apologized. “Christy, I’m really sorry. You were right. Sarah lied to me about you. Corey said that Sarah was the one who told him, not you.”
Christy said, “Thanks for telling me. I would never do anything to try to hurt you or mess up your relationships. Are you and Corey going to be okay?”
Brittany said, “Yeah, we’re back together. As for Sarah, I guess she’s one chick that I can no longer trust. Well, I can see the Science teacher is about to start class. I better go and sit down. I just wanted to let you know.”
Christy said, “Thanks, Brittany. There’s no hard feelings.”
Brittany smiled and rushed to sit down. She was full of mixed feelings of relief, anger, betrayal, confusion, and happiness as she attempted to concentrate on today’s science lesson.
Chapter 3: Brittany and Corey talk things out
Brittany was so glad and relieved that she and Corey were back together. But the more she thought about what Sarah had done to try to break them up, the madder and more upset she got.
The next day, Brittany said, “Corey, I can’t believe all the things that Sarah did to try to break us up! I hope she never does anything like what she did again.”
Corey asked curiously, “I never did get the whole story. What happened really?”
Brittany did not have to think long, for she had been reviewing the whole scene over and over in her mind. She said, “Okay, first Sarah came up to me and told me that she had heard that Christy had been telling you that I had been cheating on you.”
Corey interrupted, “Like I told you yesterday, that part was a lie as I have not talked to Christy in a long time. Sarah told me that she saw you flirting with Brian.” Seeing Brittany’s defensive look, he said, “I know, I know. She was lying. But, man! She has a very convincing way of lying.”
“I’ll say!” Brittany said with disgust. “Well, I’m afraid that I believed her too because I went up to Christy and wasn’t very nice to her.”
Corey asked, “What did you do?”
Brittany admitted, “Well, I was so upset that someone was trying to break us up as I like you so much, that, …, well, …, uh, …, I shoved her shoulder as I confronted her. Christy told me that she had never done that as she didn’t even know who I was going out with. I later apologized to her and she was really nice about it. I’m kind of ashamed of the way I handled it.”
Corey gave her a forgiving smile and said, “Then what happened?”
Brittany said, “Well, Christy had suggested that Sarah might like you and that was why she was lying to both of us.”
Corey snorted and said, “Well, I could never like a girl who tells lies and manipulates people like that. So what did you do next?”
Brittany explained, “Well, then I went up to Sarah and CHECKED MY FACTS with her. I asked her who had told her that Christy was telling you that I had been cheating on you. She acted really guilty-like and avoided looking me in the eyes. She said she couldn’t remember. Then I asked her what she thought of you. She said she thought you were adorable and one of the cutest guys in the eighth grade. That’s when I knew that she was lying to probably try to get you for herself. She lied again and told me that she had never told you anything about me, but of course, you already told me what she had told you. So that’s the whole story.”
“Wow! She’s one messed-up girl!” Corey said. “Well, I’m glad we’re back together.”
“Me, too!” Brittany said. “But you know, I feel like I don’t want to let things drop with Sarah. Mr. Campbell in my Communication Skills class told us that it’s a good idea to set firm boundaries with people when they DISRESPECT us. I feel like I need to make certain that Sarah knows that she did wrong. I’m still pretty mad at her!”
Corey said, “Why don’t you sign up to go to Peer Mediation with her?”
Brittany said, “How do I do that?”
Corey said, “I heard that you go to the guidance counselor and sign up. She’ll hook you up with a pair of trained mediators, and they help you talk out your problem and come up with a WIN-WIN solution that satisfies you both.”
Brittany said, “Wow, Corey! How come you know so much about it?”
Corey looked a bit embarrassed. Finally, he said, “Well, I had been having a conflict with this guy earlier this year. The teacher recommended that we try to solve it through Peer Meditation before it turned into an office situation. It actually worked out pretty well. We solved our conflict and even though we’re not best friends, we get along okay.”
Brittany said, “That sounds like a great idea! I’ll do it!”
Brittany went to the guidance office as soon as she could. After talking to Mrs. Feelgood, the guidance counselor, a time was set up for Sarah and Brittany to go through Peer Mediation. The appointment was set for a couple of days later as there was a bit of a waiting list. Additionally, their classroom teachers had to be given 24 hours notice. Brittany found it a little hard to wait, but she managed.
Chapter 4: Brittany and Sarah go to Peer Mediation
Finally, the day came. Both Sarah and Brittany were called out of class. They were brought into a conference room. The two peer mediators sat side by side. Brittany and Sarah were seated at opposite sides of the table. A teacher was posted in the room for supervision, but he basically stayed out of the whole conversation. At the beginning, the teacher said, “All right, girls. Welcome to Peer Mediation. Your Peer Mediators are Jacob and Trudy. Jacob is in eighth grade and Trudy is in seventh grade. They will help you talk through your conflict. As long as you come up with a solution that pleases you both, it never has to turn into an office situation and there will be no consequences attached.”
Brittany and Sarah nodded their heads and waited for Jacob and Trudy to begin.
Jacob said, “Hi, my name is Jacob!”
“And I’m Trudy.”
Brittany and Sarah both introduced themselves. Then Jacob said, “Here is how mediation works. We are here to try to help you to come up with your own solution to your problem.”
Trudy then continued, “We don’t take sides. We are simply here to help you come up with a solution that will satisfy you both.”
Jacob and Trudy typically take turns talking all through the session. They read off a script so that they can remember everything that they are supposed to say.
Now it was Jacob’s turn. He said, “We have seven rules. Rule #1 is that you need to be willing to try to solve your problem through mediation.”
Trudy read, “Rule #2 is that only one person talks at a time. If either of you feel tempted to interrupt, feel free to jot down your thoughts on this extra sheet of paper. You will definitely be given an opportunity to share your thoughts, so please wait your turn.”
Jacob said, “Rule #3 is that there should be no name-calling or put-downs.”
Trudy said, “Rule #4 is that you both need to tell the truth.”
Jacob said, “Rule #5 is there is to be no physical fighting, yelling, or throwing things. As soon as any of that happens, the mediation session will be terminated and a teacher or principal will take over.”
Trudy said, “Rule #6 is that everything of a personal nature must be kept confidential. We would be fired as mediators if we ever told any other students about your private business. Only the mediation coordinator, the assistant principal, and the principal will see a copy of the contract that will contain the final solution that you both agree to. You both need to also agree to keep all personal and private information confidential.”
Jacob concluded, “And the last rule, number seven, is that if something you say would harm you, each other, or anyone else, we will have to report it to the mediation coordinator, the assistant principal, or the principal.”
At the end of the reading of the rules, Trudy said, “Please sign this contract indicating that you understand and agree to follow all seven rules.” Both Brittany and Sarah signed the contract about a third of the way down the page where the seven rules were listed. Now the real part of the session was ready to begin.
Jacob turned to Brittany, who was seated closest to him and asked, “Okay, this is Step Two. We are going to Gather Points of View. Brittany, please tell what happened from your point of view.”
Brittany said, “Okay, Corey is my boyfriend. But then Sarah over here told me a lie. She told me that she had heard that Christy had been telling Corey that I was cheating on him. I would never cheat on him as I really like him and would never do anything to mess it up. I went and CHECKED MY FACTS with Christy. She told me and I believed her that she didn’t even know who my boyfriend was. Next I went and CHECKED MY FACTS with Sarah. I asked her who told her that Christy told Corey that I was cheating on him. She claimed she couldn’t remember. I could tell by her eyes that she was lying.”
When Brittany finished, Jacob asked, “Is there anything you would like to add?”
“Oh, yeah,” Brittany continued. “Then I asked Sarah what she thought of Corey. She told me that she thought he was adorable and that he was one of the cutest guys in the eighth grade. That’s when I was practically positive she was just trying to get Corey for herself. Well afterward, I went up to Corey and told him what had happened. When I told him that Sarah had blamed the rumor on Christy, he was confused. He let me know that he had not talked to Christy in a long time. He said that Sarah herself had said she had seen me flirting with Brian. Then when we compared facts, we both knew that Sarah was lying. Afterward, Corey and I made up.”
Then Brittany looked at Sarah and said, “Me flirt with Brian!” Please!!! Give me a break! I don’t mean to put Brian down, but yuk! I would never go for a guy like him. I only like Corey and I don’t want that messed up again.” Then turning back to Jacob, Brittany said, “That’s why I’m here. I don’t want Little Miss Sarah here trying to mess up any of my relationships again!”
Sarah looked vastly offended. She didn’t like the way the session was going so far. She definitely felt backed into a corner.
It was now Jacob’s turn to repeat the story back to Brittany to make certain he had heard the story correctly. He said, “Okay, you were told that Christy had started that rumor about you, but then you figured out it was started by Sarah. You really like your boyfriend Corey and don’t want anyone to mess that up again. Is that about right?”
“Yeah, that’s pretty close,” Brittany said.
Now it was Trudy’s turn. Trudy, who was sitting closest to Sarah, said, “Okay, Sarah. Please tell what happened from your point of view.”
Sarah lied and said, “Well, uh, …, I heard that Brittany was cheating on her boyfriend and I thought Corey deserved to know about it.”
Jacob could tell that Brittany was about to interrupt. He muttered, “Remember Rule #2! Only one person talks at a time.”
Then Trudy said, “Sarah, let me remind you that there are no consequences in this session. If that’s the truth, okay. But we’re not going to get anywhere if you both change the story from what really happened. Rule #4 is that you need to tell the truth. Is that what really happened?”
Sarah looked down at her hands for awhile. Finally, she defensively said, “No. That’s not what happened. Okay, here’s the truth. Brittany here has had a ton of boyfriends this year. And now, she’s with one of the cutest guys in the eighth grade. Well, I’ve had a crush on Corey all year and was really mad that she was with him now. So, I told them each a lie. I guess I was hoping that Corey would break up with her and would finally turn to me. That’s it!”
Trudy said, “Thank you for telling the truth. I realize that isn’t always easy. I know it took a lot of courage on your part and I appreciate it. Is there anything you would like to add?”
“No, that’s it,” Sarah said,
Trudy then repeated Sarah’s story back to her to make certain she had understood the story correctly. She said, “Okay, you feel that Brittany has had a lot of boyfriends this year and now she is with a guy that you’ve had a crush on all year. You told them each a lie as you were hoping Corey would break up with her and like you instead. Is that right?”
Sarah nodded her head.
Jacob had noticed that Brittany was really wanting to say something. When Sarah’s turn to talk was done, he asked, “Brittany, do you have anything else you would like to add?”
Brittany said, “Yes! Uh, …, Sarah, I’m glad you told the truth. Thank you! Now I don’t want to be mean, but Corey said that he would never like you since you told lies to both of us. He wants to be with girls he can trust.”
Sarah simply looked sad and said, “Oh.” Then she muttered, “Whatever.”
Now it was Jacob’s turn to talk again. “This is Step Three. We are going to Focus on Interests. Brittany, it sounds as if you were frustrated because you were getting your BELONGING need messed with as Sarah was trying to break up your relationship with your boyfriend. You also felt DISRESPECTED because you were being lied to. You wanted more RESPECT from Sarah.”
Trudy then turned to Sarah and said, “Sarah, it sounds as if you were frustrated because you were trying to get your BELONGING need met by hooking up with Corey and it didn’t work. Then when you got accused of lying, you felt that you were not getting the RESPECT that you would have liked.”
Jacob said, “So, you both would like to have a little more RESPECT and you both want to get your BELONGING need met. So you both want some of the same things.”
The purpose of this step is to simply plant the seed that each disputant has a couple of Basic Needs in common. In this case, they both shared the Basic Needs of wanting to get more RESPECT, and they also both wanted to feel like they BELONGED.
Trudy continued, “Okay. This is Step Four. We are going to work to create WIN-WIN Options. The fourth step of Mediation is to come up with a WIN-WIN solution that will please you both. To do that, you two will brainstorm some solutions to try to solve your problem.”
Jacob said, “There are three rules to brainstorming. Rule #1 is to say any idea that comes to mind, even if it might sound silly or hard to accomplish.”
Trudy continued, “Rule #2 is let’s not judge or discuss any of these ideas until a little later. I will write down your ideas so we can look at them as a group during Step Five of Mediation.”
“The last rule,” Jacob continued, “is to try to be real creative. Try to come up with as many ideas as possible so we have lots of options. Do you agree to follow those three brainstorming rules?”
Brittany and Sarah both nodded their heads yes.
Trudy said, “Okay. Let’s brainstorm. I’m going to write down your ideas on this clip board. What could you do to resolve this dispute?”
Brittany quickly said, “Sarah could tell the truth.”
Sarah said, “I guess I could apologize to Brittany, Christy, and Corey for trying to cause trouble.”
Brittany said, “Sarah could never start any false rumors again. Oh, and also, Sarah could try to get her own boyfriend.”
Jacob asked, “What other possibilities can you think of?”
Sarah said, “After I apologize, maybe Brittany could ask Corey to help me find a boyfriend.”
Jacob asked, “Can you come up with any other ideas that you would be willing to agree to?”
Brittany said, “I can’t think of anything else.”
“Me either,” Sarah said.
Trudy said, “Okay. This is Step Five. We are going to evaluate those Options. I will read off what you two came up with.”
Option #1: Sarah could tell the truth.
Option #2: Sarah would be willing to apologize to Brittany, Christy, and Corey for trying to cause trouble.
Option #3: Sarah could never start any false rumors again.
Option #4: Sarah could try to get her own boyfriend.
Option #5: After Sarah apologizes, Brittany could ask Corey to help Sarah find a boyfriend.
Jacob asked, “Which of these solutions have the best possibilities of working?”
Sarah said, “Well, I can definitely do the top three ones on the list.”
Brittany said, “Yeah, I would appreciate that.”
So Trudy circled the top three options.
Then Sarah said, “I would like it if the last two options happened too. What do you think, Brittany? Do you think you could let Corey help me out in that way?”
Brittany looked a bit uncomfortable and said, “I don’t know. I’ll think about it. I guess a lot could depend on whether you could stick to the top three options first.”
Sarah nodded her head with determination. She said, “Well, I can do part of it right now. Brittany, I’m really sorry I started that false rumor. I hope you can forgive me. And as soon as I can, I will apologize to Christy and Corey too. You can come with me when I apologize to Corey, if you like.”
Brittany said, “Yeah, I think that would be best.”
Then Brittany and Sarah both looked at Jacob and Trudy. Jacob asked, “Does this agreement resolve the major problem?”
Brittany said, “It does as long as Sarah sticks to it.”
Sarah said, “Yeah, it does for me too, and I will stick to it. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. I’ll never do that again.”
Trudy said, “Okay. You are both agreeing that Sarah will tell the truth. She will not start any more false rumors. And she has agreed to apologize to Christy and Corey. Of course, she has already apologized to you. We won’t write the other part into the contract, but we’ll just have an understanding that Brittany might help Sarah with the other two suggestions.”
Sarah said hopefully, “That would be nice.”
Brittany said, “We’ll see. Actually, it’s kind of up to Corey, isn’t it?”
Sarah nodded her head with resigned understanding.
Trudy said, “We will need you both to sign this contract indicating that you are willing to follow through on this agreement.”
Both Brittany and Sarah signed the contract at the bottom of the page.
Jacob said, “The final step is to discuss what you can each personally do to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. What about you, Brittany? What can you do next time to keep this from happening again?”
Brittany said, “Well, next time, I can CHECK MY FACTS sooner. I can do it in a nicer way. I mean, I actually shoved Christy when I CHECKED MY FACTS with her. I already apologized to her about that. And I can go to Corey immediately and talk things out with him so that we don’t have any more misunderstandings.”
Trudy then asked Sarah, “Sarah, what can you do next time to keep this from happening again?”
Sarah said, “I can tell the truth. I should mind my own business and not start rumors in the first place. And I guess that’s it.”
Jacob said, “Please understand that the major goal of mediation is to learn to resolve your own conflicts before they get too big to handle on your own.”
Trudy concluded, “We want to thank you both for coming to mediation and for cooperating in this process.”
Jacob said, “Yeah! Congratulations for working to reach a WIN-WIN agreement.”
Before they got their pass back to class, the teacher said, “Good job, Brittany and Sarah! Now what happens is that a copy of this contract is made and put into each of your records in the office. Sarah, as long as you stick to this agreement, nothing more will be said about it, and there will not be any consequences. However, if you break this agreement, then it will turn into an office situation. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I understand,” Sarah affirmed.
Afterward, both girls were given a pass back to class, and that was the end of the Peer Mediation session.
Chapter 5: Sarah makes peace with Brittany, Corey, and Christy
Brittany and Sarah walked out together. They each went to their separate classes. Before parting, Sarah said, “Uh, Brittany?”
Brittany said, “Yeah, Sarah?”
Sarah suggested, “How about I come over to your lunch table and apologize to Corey?”
“That would be okay,” Brittany said.
Sarah said, “And I’ll see Christy before lunch and will apologize to her.”
Sarah then looked hopefully at Brittany. Brittany understood and said, “Look, I’ll talk to Corey about the other idea after you apologize to him. Now, no promises, but I’ll see what I can do.”
Sarah said, “Thanks, Brittany. Well, see you at lunch.”
At lunch time, true to her word, Sarah came by. She waited to make certain that both Corey and Brittany were sitting at the table together. Sarah said, “Uh, Corey?”
Corey said, “Yeah, Sarah?”
Sarah said, “I want to apologize big time for telling you and Brittany those lies. I’m really, really sorry and will never do anything like that again. I hope you can forgive me???”
Corey nodded, “Yeah, okay. No hard feelings!”
Sarah said, “Thanks, Corey. Thanks, Brittany. Well, …, see you later.” Sarah walked off, giving Brittany one last hopeful glance.
After she was gone, Brittany said, “Uh, Corey?”
“What, Brittany?” Corey asked with a loving smile.
Brittany said, “Sarah said this morning that she kind of hoped you could hook her up with one of your friends. What do you think?”
Corey said, “I’ll have to think about it. After all, my friends don’t want to be around girls who tell lies either. Tell you what! Tell her that if she sticks to her agreement to leave you and me alone, maybe sometime, I MIGHT do that. Now, that’s not a promise. It kind of depends on her.”
Brittany said, “That sounds more than fair! Now let’s talk about other things. I’m kind of tired of thinking about her. Instead, let’s talk about our movie date this weekend. I’d much rather talk about that.”
Corey smiled and said, “Me too!” Brittany and Corey had a great time for the rest of the lunch period talking about their weekend date.
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