It’s something that happens everyday in schools, homes and neighbourhoods across the country. Its victims and perpetrators cross all boundaries of wealth, gender, ethnic origin and education. It can be a simple as a push in the hallway or a cruel remark or escalate to a co-ordinated campaign of harassment that causes families to move, kids to change schools or even, tragically for kids to take their own lives.
It is bullying and on February 29th, schools and communities across Canada will rise up and take a stand by participating in Pink Shirt Day.
At LCSS, teacher Adrian Achurch and his Leadership Class will be striving to raise awareness of the how’s and whys of Anti-Bullying Day.
“We’re working on getting the message out as to why we wear pink,” explains Achurch. “We want to stop bullying in the schools.”
The Leadership Class, mostly made up of Grade 11 and 12 students will be going around to classes talking about the problem in the days leading up to the 29th. On Wednesday, February 29th they will be holding a bake sale to raise funds for the cause.
Pink Shirt Day is one of those grassroots movements that started small and took off like wildfire. In 2007, at Central King Rural High School in Cambridge, Nova Scotia, a Grade Nine student was harassed for wearing a pink polo shirt on the first day of school. Two Grade 12 students, David Shepherd and Travis Price decided to do something about it. They went to a discount store and bought 50 pink shirts, then went home and emailed class mates to encourage them to wear a pink shirt to school the next day in protest of the incident and to show support for the victim (who to this day remains anonymous). The idea caught on and next day at school, when the bullied student arrived there were hundreds of students decked out in pink. As Shepherd later said, “It was a powerful moment, a veritable sea of pink.”
At Palsson Elementary and A.B. Greenwell School, Pink Shirt Day will also be in full swing with staff and students sporting pink shirts. At Palsson, Principal Fergus Horsburgh plans a whole school assembly for 9:00 AM on the 29th to talk about the history of the day and to remind students of the school’s code of conduct.
“Certainly four key points in our code of conduct address the issue: kindness, respect, safety and anti-bullying,” said Horsburgh. “We want to make them see that making fun of someone over their clothes or what kind of lunch they bring is hurtful and can really stick with a person.”
At LCSS , Leadership student Sierra Tjepkema has headed up the bake sale project.
“I’m making brownies and cupcakes and we’ve got people bringing muffins and cookies as well,” said Tjepkema. “All the baking will be pink to show support for anti-bullying.”
Does bullying exist even in the halls of our schools, in nice, safe Lake Cowichan?
“Definitely,” said Leadership student, Hailee Esau. “I know one boy who changed schools because of it. It’s very important to make people aware that there are kids who get bullied and it’s a serious thing.”
Besides showing support on Anti-Bullying Day by wearing a pink shirt, people can take action to stop bullying by simply stepping in when they see it occur. If you know of someone being bullied, help them find someone to talk to about it, not just on February 29th but everyday. As Esau says,” It’s way easier to be nice than to be mean.”