Lake City Secondary School students are pioneering forward with anti-bullying initiatives. With Pink Shirt Day right around the corner, they are determined to make the message behind the campaign last longer than just a day, increasing the day’s impact.
Grade 11 and 12 students from Caitlin Sabatino’s leadership class stated they feel let down by the system and that anti-bullying policies are not enforced. They said the behaviour is performative, acknowledging bullying but doing little to address the issue – only a quick slap on the hand (so to speak) or possibly a conversation with the bully.
Students admitted to being in the in-between phase in life, where they have independence but are still under their parents’ rules. They feel teachers assume too much about their independence, thinking they’re old enough to handle bullying on their own. They suggested teachers include the bully’s parents in the conversation. It would at least bring the school insight into what’s happening at home for the kid, they said, although sometimes parents are indifferent.
The theme for Pink Shirt Day this year is “lift each other up,” and they’re determined to do just that. They will be putting compliment jars throughout the school filled with tiny strips of paper with encouragements written on them. They hope students will take one when they need a pick-me-up.
One student suggested how she tries to take complimenting to the next level by challenging herself to give one verbal compliment a day to someone. The ripple effect of something like this can be astronomical as people continue to pay compliments, kindness or good deeds forward.
Students also discussed the importance of empathy and how bullying initiatives and the discussion of kindness should be brought into their lesson plans. They said that understanding how ripple effects work will inspire and motivate others to do good. However, they quickly pointed out how acts of kindness shouldn’t be done for recognition (another type of performative behaviour).
Along with compliment jars, they have asked students to anonymously write “if you really knew me” statements on slips of paper, which will then be displayed on a large pink shirt for students to read. Examples might include, “if you really knew me, you’d know how much I struggle with anxiety,” or, “if you really knew me, you’d know I don’t like my hair.” The display will then be surrounded by helium balloons with compliments and positive messages tied to the balloons, representing the theme of lifting one another up.
They also plan on putting posters up around the school reminding students about Pink Shirt Day, along with hosting a bake sale. They plan on donating the proceeds to organizations that help youth.
Students mentioned how much of their school spirit was lost during COVID-19 and how the apathy older people have towards bullying has also left them tired. Their teacher, Sabatino, pointed out that bullying doesn’t only happen amongst kids and teenagers but extends into adulthood.
Bullying is an issue the entire community should be advocating against.
You can take a stand against bullying by wearing a pink shirt on Wed. Feb. 22. Beyond that, we should all be challenged to stop bullying when we see it and implement acts of kindness into our daily lives, perhaps, at the very least, like what one of Sabatino’s students is doing, by giving out one compliment a day.
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