Pink Shirt Day, or Anti-Bullying Day, is a campaign to promote anti-bullying in schools all over the world.
This Feb. 24, wear a pink shirt to show support of anti-bullying initiatives in B.C. This Pink Shirt Day, the focus is “lift each other up.”
To learn more about Pink Shirt Day, how to get involved and more information about the types of bullying, visit pinkshirtday.ca.
The intiative began in 2007 when a Grade 9 student in Nova Scotia was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. Two other high school students organized a protest with their friends by distributing pink shirts to all the boys in their school.
Now, the initiative has grown and is supported world-wide. People in almost 180 countries participated in Pink Shirt Day last year.
Bullying comes in many forms, including physical, verbal, social or relational and cyberbullying, and is a form of aggression where there is a power imbalance — the person doing the bullying has power over the one being victimized.
Canada has the 9th-highest rate of bullying among kids that are 13 years old and at least one in three adolescent students have reported being bullied recently, according to Statistics Canada.
The rate of discrimination experienced among students who identify as LGBTQ is three times higher than heterosexual youth, according to Statistics Canada.
Almost half of Canadian parents report their child is a victim of bullying.
Signs of bullying
There are many signs of bullying, and kids may not exhibit them all. In fact, some bullied children may not show any warning signs. Some think bullying is just a part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for themselves, but it can have long-term consequences, such as shyness, panic attacks or nightmares.
In addition to learning these signs of bullying, parents can make a concerted effort to communicate with their children every day, asking youngsters about how their day went and if they encountered anything that adversely affected their mood.
When children behave well, give them positive feedback to build their self-esteem and help give them self-confidence to stand up for what they believe in.
Some of the warning signs include unexplainable injuries, lost or destroyed clothing, books electronics or jewelry, frequent headaches or stomach pains, faking illness, change in eating habits (suddenly skipping meals or binge eating), declining grades and self-destructive behaviours such as running away from home.
In a majority of cases, bullying stops within seconds when peers intervene or do not support the bullying behaviour.
Today’s students have many new things to contend with as they navigate the school year. As a greater number of schools transition to providing lessons, homework and test on digital devices, students spend much more time online.
This connectivity can have many positive results. However, the same availabilty also opens up students of all ages to various dangers. One of those dangers is a more invasive form of bullying called cyberbullying. The global organization DoSomething.org says nearly half of kids have been bullied online, with one in four saying it has happened more than once.
Girls and boys are both affected by bullying, but studies show it happens in different ways. Girls tend to experience more sexual harassment, emotional aggression and bulling online, while boys are more likely to be the victims of physically bullying, according to PREVnet, a Canadian national research network.
Children in elementary and middle school are more likely to bully others than those in high school. Physical bullying tends to decrease as kids get older, verbal, social and cyber bullying tends to increase between the ages of 11 and 15.
Cyberbullying has grown as more people access to computers and devices that offer an online connection — and at younger ages. Bullying is now just as likely to occur online as it is on the playground. Cyberbullies may bully classmates through email, social media, instant messaging and other social applications.
Since cyberbullying tends to target emotions and mental well-being, and reaches beyond the school campus into a student’s home, it’s impact can be even more serious.
A 2014 PREVnet youth survey reported 65 per cent of cyberbullying incidents were chronic, lasting longer than a year. Another survey found almost a quarter of Canadian students between the ages of four and 11 have said or done something mean or cruel to someone online, while almost 40 per cent reported that someone has said or done mean or cruel things to them online, according to Public Health Canada.
Most children are bullied by someone they know, usually a classmate, friend or acquaintance, rather than a stranger.
Cyberbullying occurs in many different forms. Here are some types of cyberbullying educators and parents can look for if they suspect their students or children are being bullied.
Harassment: A broad category, but generally refers to a constant pattern of hurtful or threatening online messages sent with the intention of doing harm.
Flaming: An online forum or group conversation, acheived by sending angry or insulting messages directly to the person. Similar to harassment, but harassment usually involves privately sent messages.
Outing/Doxing: Sharing of personal and private information about a person publicly.
Trickery: Similar to doxing, but the bully will befriend their target so they feel a false sense of security. Once trust is established, the bully will abuse and share the victims secrets and private information.
Cyberstalking: A serious form of cyberbullying that can extend to threats of physical harm to the child being targeted and can include monitoring, false accusations, threats and is often accompanied by offline stalking.
Trolling: A bully seeks to intentionally upset others by posting inflammatory comments online and can be used a tool to cyberbully when done with malicious and harmful intent. These bullies tend to be more detached and do not have a personal relationship with their victims.
Fraping: Someone logs into another’s social media account and impersonates him or her.
Masquerading: Bullies create fake profiles so they can harass someone anonymously, and is likely someone the targeted person knows well.
Exclusion: Students can be bullied simply by being deliberately left out, such as not being invited to groups or parties while they see others being included, or left out of message threads that involve friends.
Securing privacy online is one way to prevent cuberbullying attacks. Students also can be selective about who they share personal information with or whose social media friendships they accept. Thinking before posting and paying attention to language and tone can help curb cyberbullying as well. Students should stick together and report instances of cyberbullying if it becomes an issue.