When A Pink Shirt Is Not Just A Pink Shirt.

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I asked my daughter last night at dinner what she was going to wear to school the next day. She told me (although I did already know) that she was going to wear a pink a shirt. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Why are you going to wear a pink shirt?

Her: It’s Pink Shirt Day

Me: Oh, what’s that all about?

Her: To remember to be nice and not be a bully.

Me: What is a bully?

Her: Someone who does mean things to people, over and over and over and all the time.

That pretty much sums it up. A bully is someone who does mean things to people. Not once, but over and over and all the time.  I am not a professional when it comes to why people bully or how they choose their victims. I do know that way to often I am hearing horrible stories of bullying that unfortunately have horrible outcomes. It’s not just on the playground, but in workplaces and on the internet. Used to be that kids that were bullied at school could at least get home and be “safe”. Unfortunatly, that’s not the case anymore, it seems that cyber-bullying is on the rise and I think it’s more important than ever to make sure we teach our children awareness.

Today, February 26 2014, is Pink Shirt Day.  It’s a day, that first started in 2007 in Nova Scotia, after a grade 9 student was bullied for wearing, get this, a pink shirt.   Now, what I think is great is how this day was started. It was a few high school students, not teachers or administration, that went out and bought 50 pink tank tops to distribute to all the boys in the school to wear as a symbol that they will not tolerate but instead take a stand against bullying.

I believe ‘Bully Behaviour’ is a taught behaviour! The only thing my 4 year old ‘hates’ is naps and maybe the odd green veggie, not people, colours, or exceptionalities he will learn to ‘hate’ from others and Society, I as his Mumma pledge to do everything in my powers to hinder, stop and not add to it! 
Love is LOUDER! Remember not to just wear pink for Anti- Bullying Awareness but to take a few minutes to discuss with your kiddos the impact that Bullying behaviour can have on others.” ~Taken from a friend’s Facebook status.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all parents thought that way?  If everyone, not just parents but everyone who interacts with children, did everything in their power to hinder, stop and not add to it.  My kids are young and up until my oldest started kindergarten, I was basically with all of them all the time. I could protect them and correct them. I also was and still am their biggest influence.  If I demonstrate an intolerance, or a “bully” attitude, will I think chances are, so will they.  When I ask Ella, my kindergartener, to tell me about her friends, I get personality traits. I have no clue what their ethnic background is based on what she tells me. It wasn’t until I got her to point out her friends in her class picture that I knew any physical attributes about them. Nice right? She is picking her friends on who they are, not what they look like or what they wear. Sure at 4 years old, of course she gravitates towards the kids with similar likes, the girls she can discuss princesses with or share the same favourite colour, (it’s purple if you’re curious,) but disagreeing with someone on which colour is the best is not discrimination.

I have heard before that there has always been bullies, always will be and it’s part of growing up. It’s not the parents of the victims that say it, nope, it’s the parents of the bullies or the childless. So easy to just put up with something when it doesn’t affect you.  In my children’s short lives they have not had to deal with bullying directly, does that mean I should be complacent about it? Wait and see if my kids gets picked on or see if they become bullies?  Definitly not. I want my kids to know from a young age how actions, negative and positive, affect people. I want them to be like those Nova Scotian high school students who witnessed bullying and were strong enough to take a stand.  And I want the lesson to start at home.  I am, and my hubby too, are the biggest influences on my kids. All the time I hear them repeating things, good and bad, that I say – All.The.Time.  Seriously, it kinda embarrassing how well they unintentionally mimic me. That being said, I need to make sure I am demonstrating love, acceptance, tolerance, understanding, empathy, compassion and all the traits I hope to see in my children.

One thing I tell my daughter is , You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you have to be nice to everyone. It doesn’t deal with the whole issue of bullying, but for my 4 year old, that’s a good lesson to start with.

If you don’t have anything pink on yet today, go get changed. Be a participant in spreading the message that bullying is not ok.

Go here to learn more about the movement.  www.PinkShirtDay.ca

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