Pink Shirt Day

The first demonstration in favour of a pink sweater day took place in Nova Scotia, Canada. The initiative came from two Grade 12 students at Central Kings Rural High School, who heard of an act of bullying against a Grade 9 student wearing a pink sweater.

Offended, the two students, Travis Price and David Shepherd, decided to take action. They told their friends and decided to hand out pink sweaters and items at the school entrance the very next day. This anti-bullying gesture had such an impact that many schools across the country followed suit. The result was the creation of “Pink Sweater Day”, held across the country on the last Wednesday of February.

It inspired the creation of similar “pink days” in many parts of the world. Today, more than 180 countries mark this day on the second Wednesday of April to counter bullying and help create safer environments for all.

In one of its recent reports, Unicef Canada mentions that 31% to 40% of teenagers aged 13 to 15 have already experienced an act of bullying in their lives. At the same time, Statistics Canada states that nearly three quarters of young people aged 15 to 17 confirm that they have been victims of one of the 10 forms of bullying at some point in their lives. Studies also show that enduring repeated acts of bullying has a greater negative impact than unusual incidents.

Bullying affects everyone, although the proportion is higher among transgender and non-binary youth (77% vs. 69% for cisgender youth).

Source: WOKANDAPIX de Pixabay

Governments, parapublic, community and union organizations have developed campaigns, resources and tools to help and support awareness-raising efforts. The Quebec government has compiled relevant information on this page (in French only), while the Canadian Bullying Prevention Authority has done the same. The NFB has also compiled a number of videos for elementary and high school students on the subject of bullying.

At the same time, organizations are reminding us of the importance of fostering the development of socio-emotional skills such as:

  • Communicating and asserting oneself in a healthy, positive way
  • Becoming aware of other people’s experiences and showing empathy
  • Managing emotions appropriately
  • Being open and tolerant of others
  • Respect yourself and others

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights also reports on this day and offers a few questions for reflection:

Have I ever unintentionally bullied someone? What can I do to prevent bullying? What can I do if I see someone being bullied?

 There’s also an eloquent quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who noted even in his own time how resisting conformity could provoke hateful gestures.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else

is the greatest accomplishment.”

Source photo: Unicef Canada