Today we wear pink shirts

Today we wear pink shirts in recognition of “Anti-Bullying Day”.

“Anti-Bullying Day”, or “Pink Shirt Day”, began in Canada when two Nova Scotian teens, Travis Prince and David Sheppard, noticed that a classmate was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. Travis and David encouraged students at their high school to wear pink shirts in solidarity with their classmate: a staggering 850 of the 1,000 students attending their school participated in the first ever “Pink Shirt Day”. From these two young men’s actions, the “Pink Shirt Day” movement has spread across the world to raise awareness on the impacts of bullying.

According to a study funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada, 7 in 10 youth aged 15-17 reported being bullied in the past year. Consider further that the number is even higher for those youth who identify as sexually and gender diverse: 77% of this population reported having been bullied, compared to 69% of cisgender youth. Another study published by the Angus Reid Institute found that children who identified as visual minorities were also more likely to experience bullying.

Bullying can impact young people in many different ways: it can lead to mental health issues (such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, changes in eating and sleeping pattens), physical health complaints, and decreased engagement in school. Many of these issues can follow young people into adulthood.

So what can we do?

Talk to our kids. Let them know that they are not alone, empower them to stand up and speak out when they see a friend or a peer being bullied, and encourage them to reach out to a caring adult if they are experiencing or witnessing bullying.

This needs to be a year-round conversation – not just a “Pink Shirt Day” conversation, because no child should be made to feel isolated, scared, and alone.

We all want to feel loved, cared for, and safe in our community.

Bria n Shelley
Brian Shelley
Chief Executive & Philanthropy Officer
United Way Simcoe Muskoka

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