Tomorrow, February 29, 2012 is Pink Shirt Day. Pink Shirt Day encourages all of us to wear something pink to symbolize that we as a society will not tolerate bullying anywhere. While Pink Shirt Day started in Canada it is quickly becoming an international movement. You can find more information on Pink Shirt Day at http://www.pinkshirtday.ca/ or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Bullying_Day. Just Google it and you will find lots more information.
Turn on the news any night and chances are there is a report about bullying. We hear about it everywhere: stories on the news from kids and parents who have experienced bullying, conversations with parents at the school about incidents that happen, and children telling their stories about being bullied time and time again. It breaks our hearts every time we hear about a young child who has taken their own life because they can no longer live with being bullied. When we hear about such an incident, society demands that a program be brought into the schools to teach children about bullying, we protest and carry signs and light candles, celebrities get on tv and tell us that bullying has to stop, and there is a cry to bring legislative change to address the issue. We commit to wearing pink shirts once a year so we can stand up against bullies, stating we will not tolerate it anymore
But what are we really doing? Bullying programs, legislation or national days of support to stop bullying are not working and you know why? Because we focus all our efforts on stopping bullying in children. Program after program teaches children what a bully is, what they should do and what the expectations are of them. This is great information but the message we adults are giving children is “Do as we say, not as we do”. You only need to turn on the TV and watch the news, read the newspaper, attend a sporting event, or even have a conversation over coffee to see that bullying is alive and well among the adult population. It is rampant in all aspects of our society: in the workplace, at sporting events and even in the halls of politics. What is unacceptable behaviour in a child, is accepted as normal and is often encouraged by other adults. Some political organizations can be heard to claim that they have been bullied by another simply to justify their outrage because they did not get their way in an issue. Leaders, be they political or not, are some of the worst offenders.
Bullying will never end as long as we continue to teach our children that bullying is unacceptable in our schools yet ask them to live in a society where the adults believe their bullying behaviour is not only acceptable but encouraged. We are our children’s role models and we cannot nor should we expect our children to stand up and act against bullying if we are not willing to do the same. It needs to STOP NOW. It is time for the adults in our society to begin acting as we expect our children to act with respect to this issue. It is time for all adults to be positive role models to our youth.