EDITORIAL: Think pink

It can happen in a school hallway or in a Facebook post.

And signs that your child is being bullied aren’t always easily perceptible. Most children don’t want to talk about it.

That leaves it up to parents to decode subtle changes in their child’s behaviour.

If kids are left suffering alone, the consequences can be tragic. But it’s getting easier to talk about bullying.

In 2009, then-premier Gordon Campbell declared Feb. 25 Anti-Bullying Day in B.C., with the intention of raising awareness about bullying and providing easy-to-access resources for parents and kids.

Anti-Bullying Day built on a grassroots movement that started in 2007 in Nova Scotia, when a pair of Grade 12 students came to the defence of a ninth grader who’d been bullied for wearing a pink polo shirt. The older students organized a rally and handed out pink T-shirts. The bullies quickly decamped.

In B.C., radio station CKNW has kept the anti-bullying crusade alive by supporting an annual Pink Shirt Day that encourages schools, businesses and other organizations to take a stand against bullies.

In schools throughout the Lower Mainland – from South Surrey to the North Shore – there also continues to be a pink tsunami of support.

At Elgin Park Secondary, for instance, students in the Kids Help Phone Club are hosting an event they hope will raise funds for the hotline while raising awareness amongst their peers that there is somewhere to turn if they need someone to talk to but want to remain anonymous.

Wednesday – this year's Anti-Bullying Day – the students also plan to join students everywhere in wearing pink and supporting the movement.

At other schools, events ranging from school-wide assemblies to making shirt-shaped posters with anti-bullying messages are planned.

In recent years, there’s been a lot done to take the power away from bullies. In B.C. schools, there’s now zero tolerance for student intimidation that stems from code-of-conduct legislation enacted in 2007. And, online resources are widely available to help parents to deal with bullying behaviour.

But it’s not time to get complacent. Bullying still happens in schools. And for some kids, that means daily torment. Pink Shirt Day is a reminder to talk with our kids to make sure that no child feels intimidated when they leave their home. It’s also a reminder to rally around those who are the victims of bullying.

Show your support on Feb. 29 by donning your favourite shade of pink.

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