February 19, 2021

Pink Shirt Day – A Guide for Parents

What is Pink Shirt Day?

Pink Shirt Day teaches kids around the world to think critically about bullying.

On this day, parents are encouraged to talk to their children about the impact of their behaviour and the behaviours of others on mental health.

It originally started in Nova Scotia in 2007 when two high school students noticed a Grade 9 student being harassed for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school.

They took the first step towards solidarity and bought some 50 pink shirts to distribute around the school for others to wear. Wearing pink continues to be a symbol of bullying awareness to this day.

What is bullying?

Bullying happens when someone hurts or scares another person. Everyone needs to get involved to help stop it because it is wrong.

Someone who is being bullied ends up feeling hurt, afraid, alone, or uncomfortable. There are many ways that young people bully each other, even if they don’t realize it at the time. Some of these include:

  • Punching, shoving, and other physical acts.
  • Keeping certain people out of a group.
  • Spreading bad rumours about people.
  • Getting people to gang upon others.
  • Teasing people in a mean way.

What should I know about bullying?

  • Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying for 13-years-olds (among 35 countries).
  • At least 1 in 3 Canadian adolescent students have reported being bullied recently.
  • Among adult Canadians, 38% of males and 30% of females reported having experienced occasional or frequent bullying during their school years.
  • Any participation in bullying increases the risk of suicidal ideas in youth.

How do I talk to my kid about it?

We know that getting our kids to tell us the truth about negative experiences can be tricky. Try prompting your child with the following:

  • “I’ve heard a lot about bullying in the news. Is that going on at your school?”
  • “Are there any kids at school who tease you in a mean way?”
  • “Are there any kids at school who leave you out or exclude you on purpose?”
  • “I’m worried about you. Are there any kids at school who may be picking on you or bullying you?”

Some subtler suggestions:

  • “Do you have any special friends at school this year? Who are they? Who do you hang out with?”
  • “Who do you sit with at lunch and on the bus?”
  • “Are there any kids at school who you really don’t like? Why don’t you like them? Do they ever pick on you or leave you out of things?”

What else can I do to help my kid?

Visit www.bullyingcanada.ca/get-help to learn more about bullying awareness and what you can do for your child’s mental health.