It started in September 2007, when two teens at a Nova Scotia high school stood up for a younger student.
David Shepherd and Travis Price, both in Grade 12, heard about a Grade 9 student at their school who had been bullied and threatened for wearing a pink polo shirt on his first day of school.
They decided they should do something about it, and went to a discount store, where they bought 50 pink shirts and tank tops to wear to school the next day. They also went online to round up support for their anti-bullying cause, which they dubbed a “sea of pink.”
It worked. The next day, dozens of students were outfitted with the discount shirts, but even better – hundreds of students showed up wearing their own pink clothes, some from head to toe.
The bullies were reportedly never heard from again.
This year, Feb. 29 is Pink Shirt Day in B.C. and other parts of Canada, an annual anti-bullying event that started after the now famous 2007 “sea of pink” campaign.
The need for awareness and action against bullying remains as strong as ever, say those involved in the pink event, including local radio station CKNW, Black Press, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver, and London Drugs, where people can buy the official ‘Bullying Stops Here’ pink shirts for 2012.
“Awareness of what bullying is and understanding that it hurts is important,” says Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver president and CEO Carolyn Tuckwell.
“It isn’t just a rite of passage. It doesn’t have to happen. And it’s relevant to everyone, whether in school, after school or in the workplace.”
According to www.bullyingcanada.ca, as many as 25 per cent of children in Grades 4 to 6 have been bullied and approximately one in 10 children have bullied others, while a 2004 study published in the Medical Journal of Pediatrics found that about one in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying.
It is important to recognize what bullying is, and that it happens in many forms – verbally, socially, physically and online (cyber bullying), says Tuckwell.
“By wearing pink, people show they’re making that commitment, to not let bullying happen,” she says.
The provincial government has taken steps to address bullying in recent years, including a Ministry of Education resource brochure for parents in 14 languages that can be found online at www.bced.gov.bc.ca/sco.