Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet
Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet

Pink Shirt Day shows true colours

by - Story: 45305

Pink was the colour of choice for many Okanagan students Wednesday and officials says it’s a step in the right direction.

As part of B.C.’s Anti-Bullying Day, residents across the province were encouraged to wear pink as a way to bring attention to the consequences of bullying.

Premier Gordon Campbell released a statement about Anti-Bullying Day saying the more people speak out against bullies, the more safe everyone will feel.

“By working together we are making a difference. In Vernon, schools are educating students on ways to reduce cyber-bullying in Surrey, resources are being made available to parents on ways to prevent bullying and in Victoria, elementary students are learning to 'Walk Away, Ignore, Talk It Out and Seek Help' as part of a new program to help our youngest students,” says Campbell in the statement.

Principal of Kelowna’s Black Mountain Elementary, Linda Watson, says nearly every student wore something pink Wednesday for what is also known as Pink Shirt Day.

“We had our grade 5/6 class perform skits for other classes to help pass on the message of no-bullying. It was very powerful,” says Watson.

She says incidents of bullying have noticeable decreased at BME over the last couple of years.

“Students are understanding the importance of not bullying more than ever before and when they understand something, they act on it. They are more likely to report incidents of bullying rather than standing by and watching it happen. They are standing up to it and that’s exactly what programs like Pink Shirt Day are about.”

Constable Marie-Claude Keber, who works as the school liaison officer when it comes to matters of bullying, says the best thing that parents and teachers can do to prevent bullying is to educate their children about it.

“We have lots of conversations with the victims of bullying, often we include the accused bully as well, to make sure they understand why their behaviour is unacceptable. We want kids to get over the idea that if it’s not physical, it’s not a big deal, because it is,” says Keber.

She says the face to face meetings allow them to look at the situation a little deeper.

“We can judge things like body language and get more details about a specific situation. Sometimes these meetings are set up after just one incident of bullying if it was a particularly bad incident, or after a series of smaller incidents. Our intention is to make the accused bully aware of how his or her actions are being perceived and the consequences of those actions.”

Keber says they want kids to know that they don’t have to be afraid of a bully.

“There’s still a lot of fear from kids that the situation will get worse if they report it to the authorities. We just want the kids to learn to speak up if they are being bullied or if they see that someone else is.”

Pink Shirt Day was started as a protest by two Nova Scotia teenagers who wanted to show support for a classmate who was picked on by bullies for wearing a pink shirt to school.

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