Column: Pink Shirt Day

Wednesday, Feb. 25, is Pink Shirt Day in B.C., a day where we stand up against bullying at schools, in the workplace, at home and online.

Wednesday, Feb. 25, is Pink Shirt Day in B.C., a day where we stand up against bullying at schools, in the workplace, at home and online.

The annual campaign encourages participants to wear pink shirts to show solidarity with those who have experienced bullying, and take preventative action by encouraging others to commit to a harassment-free environment.

Pink Shirt Day began in 2009, when David Shepherd and Travis Price organized a protest at their Nova Scotia high school in support of a student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. A day after the bullying, Price, Shepherd and a group of 50 students showed up to the school wearing pink shirts — demonstrating to bullies their solidarity with anyone who dares to dress a bit differently, think independently, and behave in a way that’s true to them as individuals.

Bullying is not a new phenomenon, but with ever-evolving mediums of technology, cyberbullying is an increasing concern — particularly for youth. It can happen 24 hours a day, and often under the false assumption that when you’re online, you’re anonymous.

B.C. remains a national leader in bullying prevention, and is the first province in Canada to develop a comprehensive 10-point strategy called E.R.A.S.E Bullying (Expect Respect And a Safe Education).

Awareness is growing and students are taking action, but there is still more work to be done.

For more information on the ways you can support Pink Shirt Day, feel free to visit the following website that explores ways to address bullying and conflict, and plays a role in enhancing school connectedness and safe school environments: www.erasebullying.ca.

We all want our children, families and friends to be safe, especially at school. Pink Shirt Day is the act of showing bullied children and adults that they are not alone and that we as bystanders will no longer be silent or ignore bullying behaviour when we see it happening.

I challenge each of us to get more involved in helping promote safe schools, positive learning environments and increased on-line protection for our children.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.

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