Pink Shirt Day aims to stop bullying, one person at a time

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It’s common for those behaving cruelly to say they are just “joking around” or “having fun”, but bullying and the distress it causes is no joke. B.C.’s Pink Shirt Day on February 25 hopes to gather support and awareness for the cause.

The CKNW Orphan’s Fund hosts the annual Pink Shirt Day campaign where 100 per cent of sales of their signature pink t-shirt go toward anti-bullying programs across B.C. Since 2008, the campaign has raised over $830,000 for bullying prevention.

The campaign also encourages everyone to head out of the house on Wednesday wearing pink.

Jen Schaeffers, Executive Director of CKNW Orphan’s Fund says Pink Shirt Day is mostly about inclusion and compassion. “People need to examine their own actions on a daily basis. Are they contributing to the problem or are they contributing to the solution?”

“Someone shouldn’t be judged because they’re wearing a pink shirt,” she adds, referring to the national news story from 2007 when a grade nine student from Nova Scotia was bullied for doing just that.

Placing bullying in the limelight, even just for a day, can inspire people to make changes in their own personal life. “It’s a learned behaviour. They learn it from media or from watching their parents, or anywhere,” Schaeffers mentions.

Part of that self-reflection is understanding what bullying behaviour is.

Cyberbullying

According to the RCMP, cyberbullying “involves the use of communication technologies such as the Internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to repeatedly intimidate or harass others.” Included examples of cyberbullying are:

  • Sending mean or threatening emails or text/instant messages.
  • Posting embarrassing photos of someone online.
  • Creating a website to make fun of others.
  • Pretending to be someone by using their name.
  • Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others.

Recent stories of cyberbullying in B.C. have exemplified the degree to which the form of harassment impacts its victims. The well-known story of Amanda Todd, a 15 year-old Coquitlam student who took her own life in 2012 after years of bullying online, brought the effects of cyberbullying into media attention.

Social bullying

Social bullying is someone targets another’s reputation and relationships. The often subtle behaviour is likely one of the most common types of bullying among all age groups.

Behaviours included in social bullying, according to stopbullying.gov, are:

  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

Verbal bullying

When we say or write mean things about someone else, that is classified as verbal bullying. We have all heard of the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, but this statement is untrue. While it is amazing if someone is able to hold this attitude, some of the worst bullying is done through name-calling or making threatening statements.

PrevNet, Canada’s research centre on bullying prevention defines verbal bullying as:

  • Name-calling
  • Mocking
  • Hurtful teasing
  • Insults
  • Slurs
  • Humiliating or threatening someone
  • Racist comments
  • Sexual harassment

Physical bullying

While the bruises of physical bullying may disappear after a few days, the damage does not. This aggressive form of behaviour can cause serious psychological harm, according to PrevNet. School yard rumbles seem all too familiar in movies and television, making children believe this type of behaviour is normal, but any kind of physical torment is considered bullying.

Physical bullying, according to stopbullying.gov, includes:

  • Hitting/kicking/pinching
  • Spitting
  • Tripping/pushing
  • Taking or breaking someone’s things
  • Making mean or rude hand gestures

Bullying in the workplace

Because the workplace is often associated with heated discussions, critical feedback and close quarters, bullying can quickly become a problem. While employees may create a work-centric community, close contact, competition and hierarchy can cause tension and a breeding ground for bullying.

The government of B.C. hopes to address bullying at work by helping to determine what is and what is not bullying. Generally, they define the behaviour as the “intention to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate.” On their website, they list the following actions as examples of bullying:

  • Aggressive or frightening behaviour such as swearing, shouting, intimidation by threatening violence
  • Spreading false accusations about a person
  • Criticism, humiliation, invasion of privacy, slanderous comments, undermining, destructive rumours or gossip and making unreasonable demands
  • Rude, belittling or sarcastic comments, for example, “you’re hopeless” or “she’s on her way out”
  • Abusive, belittling or intimidating phone calls, emails, notes, etc.
  • Baiting or unreasonable teasing, for example, singing derogatory songs and inserting the person’s name or using cruel nicknames
  • Nasty practical jokes
  • Deliberate and unreasonable isolation or exclusion from work discussions, communication or other work-related activities
  • Ignoring the person
  • Withholding necessary information or deliberately withholding work flow so that a person cannot carry out their duties
  • Removing areas of responsibility without cause

The site also lists examples of behaviour that, while unpleasant, is not classified as bullying:

  • Expressing differences of opinion
  • Making a complaint about a manager’s or other employee’s conduct, if the complaint is made through appropriate sanctioned methods and in good faith
  • Occasional, one-off incidents which would be considered to be minor (losing your temper, shouting or swearing)
  • Comments that are objective and intended to provide constructive feedback to assist the employee with their work
  • Unskilled managers handling difficult conversations badly
  • Rigid rules consistently applied that are impacting employee engagement
  • Poor communication or disagreements between employee

Pink Shirt Day is about supporting the prevention of bullying across the province, starting with oneself. Beyond the goal of raising funds for anti-bullying projects across B.C., the CKNW Orphan’s Fund hopes everyone, no matter their age, takes a look at their contribution to the problem and the solution.

To donate or learn more about Pink Shirt Day, visit the website at www.pinkshirtday.ca.

PINK SHIRT DAY 2015

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Jill Slattery Jill Slattery was born and raised in Vancouver, where she also earned an Arts degree from UBC in English and Creative Writing. She is an avid TV-watcher and a shameless Taylor Swift fangirl. Jill is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Contact her at jill@vancitybuzz.com
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