February 18th, 2022
Wednesday, February 23 is Pink Shirt Day and we encourage the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) community to participate with us by taking a stand against bullying of all kinds.
For almost two years, much of our everyday interactions have shifted to being online. Whether it has been to learn, work, keep in touch with family and friends, pass the time, or gain a new skill, our online presence and engagement have increased in a way that we have never experienced. While most of the time, online communities and efforts include positive messages of encouragement and stories, there is no doubt we have seen an exponential increase of negative comments, harassment and hate.
This form of bullying is called cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying involves using technology to intentionally embarrass, intimidate, hurt, harass or humiliate another person. The bully, usually hiding behind a screen and possibly using an alias, “trolls” or attacks other individuals for having an opposing view or thought. These online arguments or disagreements have gone beyond the opinion of “pizza is better without pineapple,” they have started to diminish people for who they are and who they are allowed to be.
The actions we take and the words we post online can be permanent, impossible to erase, and do harm to another person. Just because someone else does it, does not make it okay. The next time you share a photo, send a text, or make a comment, ask yourself: is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind?
During a time when the expectation to use technology is at the forefront of learning, it’s important to remind all students of WRDSB’s Digital Citizenship Guidelines and encourage them to be kind and responsible online.
Having students experience a caring learning environment, whether virtual or in-person, that addresses their well-being is crucial to their development and sense of belonging. We recognize and appreciate the relationship between student mental health and academic success.
About Pink Shirt Day
This movement was inspired by the actions of two high school students from Nova Scotia. In 2007, the students witnessed a Grade 9 boy being bullied for wearing a pink polo shirt on his first day of school. Bullies harassed the boy, called him a homosexual for wearing pink and threatened to beat him up. Disgusted with this treatment, the students went to a nearby discount store and bought 50 pink shirts. Then they went online to email classmates to get them on board with their anti-bullying cause that they dubbed a “sea of pink”. The next day not only were dozens of students outfitted with the discount tees, but hundreds of students showed up wearing their own pink clothes, some head-to-toe.
Pink Shirt Day is now an annual anti-bullying campaign that has grown across Canada and around the world as a way to symbolize bullying will not be tolerated.
Wear pink to show your support.
Participating is as simple and easy as wearing pink in your hair, as a piece of clothing, a cool accessory, or even a pink background picture for your virtual learning environment.
It is one small way you can positively contribute to the well-being of those around you. We need to come together to understand the impact bullying can have on a person, gain knowledge to help provide support, and learn to be more empathic to those struggling.
We invite you to follow us on Twitter at @wrdsb or on Instagram at @wr_dsb to join the larger anti-bullying conversation. If you are planning to wear pink on Wednesday, please help us spread the word that bullying is not tolerated by tweeting or sharing a picture using the hashtag #WRDSBpink and #PinkShirtDay.
Research shows that a positive and welcoming school environment is essential to the physical and mental wellness and success of each and every one of our students.
We understand that families are looking for support and resources for children who may be experiencing acts of bullying, which is why we have created resources on our website that includes bullying prevention and intervention information, what a positive school climate looks like, and the process for addressing concerns if you believe your child is being bullied.