We all know bullying is bad and harmful, but one form of emotional bullying is still way too common on teams. Even close-knit cheer squads are susceptible to gossip, and it's important to banish that kind of negativity from your team. Rumors and gossip can tear through your cheer squad and have a damaging effect on your season. Here are six ways gossip hurts your squad:

  1. Ultimately, the whole point of cheerleading is the experience. Fighting, backstabbing, and jealousy don't make for fun times or good memories

  2. You won't trust each other. If you can't trust each other, you probably shouldn't be putting your life in each other's hands.

  3. You won't perform well together. What makes a good team great is friendship. If you have the confidence of knowing your teammates have your back, you're going to give it your all. Plus, close friends can basically read each other's minds, finish each other's sentences, and sense each other's feelingsall things that help with timing, practicing and perfecting skills, adjusting to stunt issues, etc.

  4. There's no room for bitterness and resentment on a good cheer squad. Being on a team means you are there for each other. You want the best for each other.

  5. Starting or spreading a rumor about someone on your cheer squad makes the whole team look bad. Not wanting to hurt your teammate should be reason enough not to spread rumors, but really each of you is a representative of your cheer squad and trying to make one person look bad will reflect badly on the whole team.

  6. The results of this kind of bullying really can be tragic. There are more than a few stories out there of people who are bullied taking drastic measures to deal with their pain.

When it comes to any kind of emotional bullyingfrom spreading rumors to teasing and jokingyou never know how your actions might really be affecting someone on the inside. You might think you're just joining the crowd and having a good time, but what if you were the one who made a positive difference instead?

There's probably been a time in your life when you laughed along as your friends teased you about something. You knew it was just innocent joking and they didn't mean anything by it, but it still made you self-conscious or embarrassed. When another person is the subject of the teasing, you don't have to make a dramatic statement in the middle of the group and scold everyone for their jokes. You can simply try to change the subject, or even add something positive like, "We can joke about this all we want, but you know we'd be lost without Ashley on our team." Even going up to your teammate later and telling her how smart you actually think she is (or whatever correlates to the joke), could mean the world to her. She is probably feeling just like you have before, knowing everyone was just joking but still feeling insecure.

A big part of being a cheerleader is being a good teammate, and a good teammate protects her fellow cheerleaders.

How do you keep rumors and gossip from damaging your team?