Schools across Vancouver Island were bursting with pink last week as teachers, students and parents joined together to display a united front against bullying.
Pink Shirt Day is celebrated anually across the province in February. The event has grown from its origins a decade ago when a pair of teens distributed pink T-shirts to the boys in their school in sympathy of a classmate who was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt.
But a single day cannot heal the lifetime of pain that many victims of bullies are forced to endure, nor is the torment limited to schools, and it will not be resolved by a symbolic gesture. We must view Pink Shirt Day not as a solution, but as a reminder that we must remain vigilant to eradicate abusive behaviour and ease the suffering it can cause.
Statistics show that behaviour is not as isolated as we would like. One report suggests one in three Canadian students report being bullied, while 47 per cent of Canadian parents report having a child who has been a victim of bullying. While donning a pink shirt may make us feel like we have done our part, the answers to issues as serious as bullying cannot be found in our dresser drawers.
We must do more to identify bullying behaviour and take steps to eliminate it.
Take the time to speak with your children about what they should do if they witness inappropriate behaviour directed at themselves or their schoolmates. And by all means encourage them to stand up to bullies on Pink Shirt Day and throughout the year.
So take pride in the fact that you or your children will wear pink to show support for the victims of bullying. But recognize that the fight isn’t over when that shirt goes back into the closet.