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Pink Shirt Day

By Peter Dicks, UNICEF Canada

February 25th marks Pink Shirt Day – an anti-bullying awareness day inspired by the actions of two Nova Scotia high school students. These two friends stood in solidarity with another student who’d been bullied for wearing a pink shirt, by handing out pink tank tops to every boy in their school and encouraging them to wear them.

Unfortunately, bullying remains a serious problem not only in our schools, but also our homes, workplaces, and online spaces. UNICEF’s Hidden in Plain Sight report found that 31-40% of Canadian children aged 13-15 have been bullied at least once in their lives. Although no one is a stranger to bullying and the devastating effect it can have on lives, there are surprisingly still too many people who see bullying as a normal part of growing up. 

Children have the right to be protected from physical or mental harm and the right to live a life free from any form of discrimination. These rights are outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – a convention that Canada signed in 1991. It’s a promise by governments to the world’s children that our societies will do everything we can to support their rights to survive and flourish

Our society can and should do more to protect children from bullying, which includes supporting and empowering youth themselves.

Pink Shirt Day is a great example of youth taking affairs into their own hands, exercising their rights to have an opinion and make themselves heard and to freely express themselves.  Furthermore, by making their school a safe space where everyone felt comfortable, these two youth ensured that all students in their school could achieve their right to an education and develop as peaceful and responsible individuals.

Their movement is spreading – and its one we can all support. 

Fortunately, everyone can take action to help end bullying. Think about your own actions and if they’ve caused harm to others around you.  If you’re feeling really inspired, start or join an anti-bullying campaign in your community.  You can also join the conversation on social media. Together, we can all play our part in #pinkshirtday by speaking up and ensuring that #bullyingstopshere. Also be sure to share your own anti-bullying initiatives and ideas in the comments, and show your solidarity with anti-bullying efforts by posting selfies of yourself wearing pink clothing.