On Wednesday February 24th, Canada celebrated Pink Shirt Day also known as Anti-Bullying Day.
Pink Shirt Day started in 2007 in Halifax at Central Kings Rural High School in Berwick, Nova Scotia when two grade 12 students, Travis Price and David Shepard, organized their group of friends to wear pink shirts in solidarity with a ninth grade student they saw being bullied for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school.
These boys took a stand against bullying by buying around 50 pink shirts and distributing them to their friends.
In honour of that day, the Premier of Nova Scotia, Rodney MacDonald, declared that the second Thursday in September is “Stand Up to Bullying Day”
Since then Pink Shirt Day has been an international symbol against bullying, as students around the world don pink shirts to show their support for those without a voice.
Sonia Ellison, Vice Principal of Bishop Reding Catholic Secondary School in Milton, shared the school’s view on pink shirt day.
“Halton Catholic District School Board has in years past really focused on student led initiatives regarding anti-bullying, and Pink shirt day has really become a prominent part of all of that, unfortunately with Covid its affected the way we’re able to get the message out in the same way, but students have been encouraged to wear pink shirts, staff are wearing pink shirts, we’ve even noticed students online are wearing pink shirts in solidarity,” said Ellison.
Canadian teachers ranked cyberbullying as their issue of highest concern out of six listed options—89 per cent said bullying and violence are serious problems in our public schools.
Over 80 per cent of the time, bullying happens with peers around – and 57 per cent of the time, bullying stops within 10 seconds when a bystander steps in.
Ellison also shared some of the efforts taken to reduce bullying at the high school level.
“We’ve started to put this spin on the messaging so it’s more centered around making sure the school is a safe and welcoming place for everyone, students, staff, and visitors alike,” said Ellison.
Ellison elaborated on how their goals as a school community are a bit broader than just anti-bullying, and how they as a school community are really conscious about how feeling safe and welcome has a positive effect on self esteem, self confidence, and mental health and wellbeing.
Pink shirt day by Andrea Cardenas Gaviria
Pink shirt day 2 by Andrea Cardenas Gaviria