Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Problem with Pink Shirt Day

Don't get me wrong. I think what those young boys did in Nova Scotia was amazing. Standing up against bullying takes guts and they did make a difference that day. If you don't know the story you can read about it here:  Inspite of this I have a real problem with the what Pink Shirt day has become.

I want to tell you a story about what I saw last year in my school.  It was Pink Shirt day. Students were all decked out in there pink gear (many shirts had been bought specially for the occasion) one of my little guys came in to my class a little late, looked around and looked down at his shoes. I watched as everyone turned and waited for him to take off his jacket so they could see his pink shirt. He wasn't wearing a pink shirt. Suddenly he was surrounded by 4 or 5 students. "Why aren't you wearing pink?"  "You have to wear pink today!"  "Don't you care about bullies?" The Pink shirt message had not gotten through with those kids.  We talked about it as a group that day but it wasn't the only time I saw similar conversations and situations throughout the day. It happened in grade 6 as much as it did in grade 1.

Here is a great video from the Young Actors Studio that acknowledges the problem and shows how NOT to celebrate pink shirt day.

It is a little bit our fault.  The announcement say "Wear Pink to stand up against bullying"  The video's say "Make a difference and Wear Pink."  Our school even showed students a video promoting Pink Shirt day where the participants poked and prodded a student until he got the message and wore pink. The Pink has become more important than the message.

Kids need to hear us talk about what bullying is.... and what it isn't.
Kids need to learn about how to can treat each other in positive ways.
Kids need to understand the bullying is wrong.
Kids don't NEED to wear pink to show they understand.

This Pink Shirt day I challenge you to find a real way you can fight bullying in your schools. The Pink shirt worked in 2007 because it showed that particular bully that the boy wearing pink wasn't alone.  How can you show each other you support each other this year? How can you help the victims of bullying in your school feel like they aren't alone?

What did I learn in school today? I need to think about the message I am sending out to my kids when I put in their agenda or newsletter saying "Wear Pink".  Are they learning the lesson I hope they are or are they just going through the motions because it is what is expected of them?

What have your experiences been like for Pink Shirt day?

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