Monday, February 23, 2015

Pink Day

Wednesday, February 25 is the Red Cross Pink Day. This is a day where everyone dresses up in pink to create awareness to stop bullying. While I enjoy dressing up for school (some examples are below), I think anti-bully days and the word bully itself are and is a tad overdone.

Dress up days like this are fun, kids and staff both laugh and it's a good way for any student or teacher to get involved with the school in a positive way. Fun like this builds a positive school culture. I've been known to promote dress up days - most of my wardrobe is dedicated to fun days throughout the school year.


Pink Day is all about anti-bully. The Manitoba Government describes bullying here. This definition is not something I completely agree with and it can set schools up and kids up for failure (section 1.2(2) (a) characteristically takes place in a context of a real or perceived power imbalance between the people involved and is typically, but need not be, repeated behaviour;). Another definition is here (Repetition: Bullying behaviours happen more than once).

Although I agree with trying to get bullying out of schools. I would be a fool not to want that and to get it out of schools, the workplace, the community and... and... and... I do feel there is a problem with the whole notion of Pink Day because of how it began. The students involved in standing up for a classmate who wore a pink shirt to school got a group of other students to wear pink the next day. This is a story on how Pink Day began.

I'm not sure the act that prompted the students to wear pink is in itself bullying. It was incredibly mean. By definition, getting a group of kids to wear pink and excluding other students could be considered bullying itself.

When students are excluded (even the so-called bullies) no one wins. This creates a divisive culture and people are left out. A culture that promotes kindness that is inclusive for everyone is the best way to support every child at school. Do schools have bullies? Yes. I do find the word is placed on every mean act and is somewhat overused. More so, there is a general lack of kindness that is pervasive. Watch the news or read the newspaper. It's clear that people can be mean to each other. But, by calling everything 'bullying' I think creates a knee jerk reaction of punishment and exclusion where little or no teaching and learning takes place. It just upsets a lot of people.

Teaching kids to be accepting (not tolerant - I find that to be an arrogant word) and to have a strong character and sense of self is key to positive responses to acts of meanness or 'bullying'. Poor or negative responses to meanness usually just amplifies the problem. Teaching kids skills to respond in a positive manner often stops or changes the situation immediately.

Continuing to focus on the bully won't necessarily stop bullying in a school. Anti-bully days are nice and have good intentions I just feel there is a better way. We need schools that have cultures that include everyone (the 'bullies' are often victims of something from their past - these kids are generally trying to get some control in their life - everyone wants and needs that). Schools need to focus on kindness and promote a happy culture where every child feels a part of the school. Every child needs to have at least one adult who is their 'person'. A child without a strong connection at school is a kid who will find attention. Often the kind of attention no one likes to see.

To read more about how teaching kindness is key to promote a safe school environment please take a moment to read this by Lisa Currie.

My school will continue to support Pink Day because it is a feel good thing for lots of kids and teachers. We will however, push the conversation away from anti-bullying to a message of kindness, empathy and acceptance.

Comments are nice and appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I love your notion of directing it towards kindness, empathy and acceptance and not on anti-bullying. I agree. The word bully has created this knee jerk reaction. And, I too believe a bully is a victim of something. Actually, in truth, I don't think anyone wants to be a bully.

    But, bullying has taken on a different form now a days, hasn't it? Specifically, the internet. This grey, uncontrolled, area. Schools and parents are going to have to work together now more than ever, I think.