Schools across the West Shore, Greater Victoria and the province stand united today (Feb. 25) in hopes of bringing an end to the devastating effects bullying can have on young lives.
Pink Shirt Day takes place across B.C. today. The anti-bullying day is celebrated across Canada and in 25 countries around the world on other dates. The movement aims to eliminate schoolyard bullying and alleviate the negative consequences bullying can have on children in school.
Bullying can often be life-altering for the families of victims, their schoolmates and their communities. They can also be tragic, as in the case of Shoreline Community School student Reena Virk, who died at the hands of her tormenters under the Craigflower Bridge in 1997.
The statistics tell a frightening tale. Bullying is not just an occasional event.
According to a report from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, at least one in three teenaged students in Canada report being bullied, while 47 per cent of Canadian parents report having a child who has been a victim of bullying.
Among adult Canadians, 38 per cent of males and 30 per cent of females report having experienced occasional or frequent bullying during their school years.
The numbers are even worse for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, as the rate of discrimination against them is three times higher than for heterosexual youth. Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideas in youth.
The growing popularity of events such as Pink Shirt Day show that Canadians are committed to putting an end to the potentially tragic results of bullying.
Strategies and legislation aimed at preventing bullying and helping victims of bullying are certainly worthwhile ventures. But it bears noting that no one is born a bully, it is a behaviour children learn from those around them.
It is something parents need to keep in mind the next time they’re angered by a passing motorist or something that takes place in the check-out line or neighbourhood rink.