On Friday 20 May 2016, thousands of New Zealanders will celebrate Pink Shirt Day and stand together to take action against bullying.

A record number of organisations and groups have already registered their local Pink Shirt Day activities, from pink breakfasts and mufti days to anti-bullying forums and guest speakers.

Celebrated around the globe, Pink Shirt Day began in Canada in 2007 when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying, mobilising their whole school, after a peer was bullied for wearing a pink shirt.

Pink Shirt Day Aotearoa works to create schools, workplaces and communities where all people feel safe, valued and respected, regardless of age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, or cultural background.

 

Some of our Mavericks shared their experiences around bullying:

 

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Leigh Bedford

 

Don’t retaliate, because they want that attention and it’ll make them want to do it even more, you know? Have someone who you can talk to at school if your parents are hard to talk to. If you are experiencing bullying, know that life will get better for you.

 

 

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Sophie Stone

 

Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself or go to someone you trust for help. Take steps to block this person from your social media accounts if they are a cyberbully. Know that when people are unkind to you, it’s a reflection on them, not you.

 

 

 

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Alex Saifiti

It may sound weird, but try not to take it personally. Often people are mean because of their own insecurities or troubles at home, that you can’t see. If you’re being bullied, you could choose to ignore it and hope that it goes away. If it doesn’t, speak up and let someone know. You could also stand up for yourself and let the person bullying you know how you feel.

 

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Thomas Stevenson

“Don’t be afraid to tell an adult about the problem. If you’re being bullied at school, talk to one of your teachers about it. It would take a truly soulless teacher not to put the bully in detention, after which they should leave you alone. Try not to take your feelings out on your friends. Being bullied can make you feel sad, afraid and angry. Rather than bottling those feelings up until they make you explode, talk to your parents or teachers about them. Communication really is vital. Learn a martial art. I can tell you from personal experience that taekwondo works wonderfully as a deterrent, but only use physical intimidation if you feel your wellbeing is threatened.”

 

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Deborah Grace Harvey

“Don’t engage in bullying behaviour! A lot of bullying that happens around us is covered up – bullies don’t just force you to give them your lunch money or shout mean things across the corridor at you. Sometimes you might not even realise that what you say (even in a joking way) hurts your friends! Gossiping, online hating, and isolating someone can all be forms of bullying. Be kind to one another. Make sure your words and actions build people up, not tear them down. If you’ve ever experienced bullying, know that it isn’t because you aren’t good enough, or because you suck or are ugly/fat/dumb or whatever mean things they say about you. Standing up for yourself can simply mean being the bigger person,  deciding to forgive them and not letting them have the power to have a hold over your life in that way anymore. ”

 

Pink Shirt Day is led by the Mental Health Foundation with support from The Peace Foundation, RainbowYOUTH, InsideOUT, New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association, Youthline and Family Works. Find out more on the Pink Shirt Day website and Facebook page.

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