Pink day spreads anti-bullying message

Schools across province take part in campaign to battle intimidation
Friday, September 10, 2010
NS Chronicle Herald

Many students throughout Nova Scotia were attired in pink Thursday as a reminder that bullying will not be tolerated in their schools.

Activities on the third annual Stand Up Against Bullying Day included the wearing of pink T-shirts, assemblies and projects about peace.

Some students made anti-bullying art and poetry, held discussions about bullying or had guest speakers and team-building exercises.

"But addressing issues of bullying needs to be something that happens all year round," said Clare Levin, executive director of Peaceful Schools International, in an interview.

She said members of the Halifax-based organization are committed to building a climate of peace in schools.

"The best way to prevent bullying is to take a proactive approach and create an environment where it is not acceptable."

Peaceful Schools International has 45 member schools in Nova Scotia.

"But most schools, whether or not they are members of PSI, still try to do something to mark the day in some way," said Levin.

She said the pink shirt initiative is a good example of how bullying can be stopped if students don’t act as bystanders.

The inspiration for Stand Up Against Bullying Day came from two Grade 12 students at Central Kings Rural High School in Cambridge, Kings County.

In 2007, Travis Price and David Shepherd rallied behind a new student who was being bullied simply for wearing a pink shirt. They brought pink shirts to school and handed them out to classmates to wear in solidarity with the new student.

Their actions sparked similar events around the world, and helped to raise awareness about other initiatives in schools, particularly positive effective behavioural supports.

They are used to teach and reinforce expected behaviours while providing support to all students, including those dealing with behavioural challenges.

"Some schools give special recognition of anti-bullying day, but many have anti-bullying efforts as part of their culture all year long," said Margo Tait, superintendent of the Annapolis Valley regional school board.

"What we really encourage is that there is an awareness of bullying and approaches to preventing it throughout the year. It’s something we need to be aware of all the time."

Joe Morrison, principal at Oxford School in Halifax, encouraged his students and staff to wear pink to recognize the day. He also invited students to get involved in peace initiatives that will take place throughout the school year.

"At Oxford, we have student ambassadors who participate in various activities throughout the year that promote peaceful relationships and environments.

"Junior high students actually have the opportunity to become trained in how to peacefully and safely de-escalate bullying situations, and we try and hold at least one anti-bullying or peace event each month."

Ira Archibald-Falon, a Grade 9 student ambassador for peace at Oxford School in Halifax, said peace and anti-bullying activities help students become better friends.

"This day reminds us of the importance of healthy, safe and positive learning environments for students and teachers alike," said Education Minister Marilyn More in a news release.

"Bullying is unacceptable, and I want to encourage all students to confide in a teacher, counsellor, principal or parent if they are being bullied or know of someone who is."


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