These days, people seem to really like gestures where they get to “raise awareness” for causes. You have Earth Hour, posting your bra colour for breast cancer, and literal mountains of coloured rubber bracelets, ribbons and bumper stickers informing people on the dangers of “blank”. Yesterday was anti-bullying day, when people everywhere showed their support for the teased and the downtrodden by donning pink shirts for the day. Maybe I’m just a general downer, or maybe it’s because I don’t own a pink shirt (the closest I have is lavender), but I really think that this has nothing to do with actually stopping school bullying.
If you go to Pinkshirtday.ca, you are invited to take the pledge to wear pink on April 14th, and that you will not tolerate bullying. What does that mean exactly? Do you fight back when someone teases you or your friends? What if “Hey, stop that” doesn’t work? How do you comfort someone who has just been bullied? Jumping on the awareness bandwagon is all fine and good, but it takes more than that to deal with the practical, everyday questions that make up the issue that is bullying. Even if we provide kids with more education about it, as a culture we need to come up with acceptable ways for everyone to deal with people who are just meanies. As my educator wife would say, “Every day is anti-bullying day.”