Students stand up to bullies

Pink Shirt Day marked by Parksville Elementary School students on Feb. 28

Rob Tryon with his daughter Sierra Tryon with Solomon the pink salmon in front of Bonnie Finotti’s kindergarten class at PES.  In honour of First Nations traditions

Rob Tryon with his daughter Sierra Tryon with Solomon the pink salmon in front of Bonnie Finotti’s kindergarten class at PES. In honour of First Nations traditions

Every seven seconds in Canada, a child is bullied.  Research suggests that between 20 per cent and 60 per cent of Canadian students are bullied, with younger students more likely to be bullied than older ones.

Depending on the age group, up to 40 per cent say they have bullied a fellow student.  The alarming statistics prompted students from around the world to stand up to bullying and where pink shirts on Wednesday, Feb. 29.

Pink Shirt Day began in September 2007 at Central Kings high school in Cambridge, N.S., when a ninth grader arrived wearing a pink polo shirt. He was bullied mercilessly by a group of Grade 12 students who told him if he ever wore a pink shirt again he’d pay for it.  When David Shepherd and Travis Price, got wind of what happened, they had an idea. They purchased 50 pink shirts and tank-tops and sent out messages inviting as many kids as possible to wear them to school. Not only did they easily distribute the shirts, but almost 300 students showed up dressed in pink, some from head to toe. One of the bullies saw the sea of pink and threw a trash can in protest, but as Shepherd would say later, not a peep was heard from the bullies after that day.

The story was picked up by the national media and later overseas as well. Today schools around the world hold annual Pink Shirt Days, all because two Canadian students decided to step up and lead.

In School District 69 (Qualicum) students participated in a variety of events to get the message out that bullying is not acceptable.

At Parksville Elementary School the gymnasium was a sea of pink during an assembly that encouraged to students to be kind to one another.  The event got underway with a lively dance by Jeannie Deiwold’s kindergarten class.  First the students sang Hey There Friend and then did a choreographed dance routine to the friendship song.

Several students took hold of the microphone and talked about ways to stand up to bullying and to always report it.

Bullying is rampant in Canada.  Thousands of kids are picked on, insulted, beat up and called derogatory names each day for anything perceived as being different and bullied victims are between two and nine times more likely to consider suicide.