Growing number of upset Dutch children calling helpline over TikTok gossip channels
The children's helpline Kindertelefoon received several reports from children regarding gossip channels on TikTok since last week, the helpline reported on Tuesday. Director Roline de Wilde described the signals as concerning. "In addition to victims of these online bullying incidents, we also speak to children considering creating an account or regretting their actions on TikTok," she said.
The past week saw significant attention on these gossip channels, also referred to as "Gossip Girl" accounts, named after the American drama series where an anonymous blogger spreads rumors about students at a private school in New York.
The show first aired in 2007 and recently returned to Netflix. On TikTok, an increasing number of channels similarly publicize gossip. NOS Stories reported that dozens of schools had to deal with such gossip accounts. In the Utrecht region, several schools sent letters to parents about the issue, RTV Utrecht reported on Friday. In these letters, schools are asking parents to be vigilant.
Employees of the Kindertelefoon spoke with children who created a gossip account or are considering doing so. According to De Wilde, they often do not fully grasp the consequences of their actions. It is crucial to maintain a dialogue with them, she remarked.
"We often find that children who bully others are trapped in a group process they can't independently break free from. Our volunteers discuss the consequences with these children, and at the same time, we try to motivate them to talk to someone they trust in their environment," she said.
The Kindertelefoon offers advice on the steps to take for children being bullied online. De Wilde explained that children experiencing online bullying through the #GossipGirl tag are directed to organizations like HelpWanted, which can sometimes assist in removing the content.
At the Kindertelefoon, bullying has been a frequently discussed topic for years. Over the past year, the number of conversations about it increased from 65 to 85 per day, according to the Kindertelefoon.