From a Victim to Pink Shirt/Bullying Awareness Days
March 14th, 2017
February 22 marked this year’s “Pink Shirt Day” in Canada, and I expect that many of you here on campus will, in some way, participate; be it through social media, or wearing a pink shirt, or however the pinkshirtday.ca website says you can support the so-called movement. As someone whose near-entire childhood and secondary education experience was fraught with bullying, I’m here to ask you: what exactly has pink shirt day done for victims?
Pink shirt day is like a band-aid solution, but worse. A band-aid solution is when you know a problem occurs and you’d like to draw attention to you attempting to fix the problem with minimal effort and/or result: like putting a band-aid on a gashing wound. Pink shirt day is like putting cellophane on such a wound: you are aware there is a problem but since you don’t want to or know how to apply the effort, you wrap it in attention without addressing the issue (hence, a cellophane solution).
I don’t know a single person in our society who is unaware of the fact bullying occurs, so I fail to see the value in making a day of awareness for something we, as a society, are already aware of. The dedication of one specific day to “anti-bullying” is also a joke to any victim, since a victim knows that bullying isn’t limited to a single day, it happens in any space designated for young people to learn. That means that from the day children begin to learn outside the household, they are exposed to the possibility of being bullied. Since education in our society goes on from around the age of 4 to about 18, it suddenly becomes more of an insult than an attempt to help to dedicate only ONE DAY to a possible lifetime of suffering.
In reality, pink shirt day neither involves bullies nor victims. Pink shirt day involves people outside the experience, myself included since I am no longer exposed to bullying. But when I was exposed to it, all those assemblies and speakers just sounded like a bunch of people who had failed in protecting me from bullying acknowledging how much being bullied sucks. So how do you stop bullying? You don’t, it’s going to happen. But we must let possible victims know that their childhood, existence, and happiness will be actively protected by those who are blessed to either never have dealt with, or no longer will experience such an existence.
I’ll end on a good note for pink-shirt day however, since it isn’t in of itself doing wrong. There is good that has come from such anti-bullying movements; a great example of such accomplishments is how movements like pink-shirt day have made gender-neutral bathrooms a norm in high schools, which I agree is a huge step forward. However, my point is, bathrooms don’t bully people; people bully people, and it’ll take the action of people, not institutional mandates, to make a difference to even one child.