Protests against mistreatment can sometimes lead to changes at the local, provincial and national levels. Today’s Day of Pink march is an example of this, as it began simply enough as an idea of two high school students in Nova Scotia when they saw a friend and classmate being bullied for wearing a pink shirt.
Admittedly the march will not change the reality of school being a place of terror for some children, as bullies seem to transcend all efforts to stop their hateful actions and words, and we keep hearing poignant accounts of young people taking their lives because of bullying, or being unable to live their lives in a peaceful way due to bullying.
The fact that there is a need to have such an event as the “Day of Pink” march points to the ongoing problem of bullying in schools, communities and even in some workplaces today.
Weyburn’s Red Cross coordinator, George Barker, got the support of city council behind today’s march (which starts with gathering at 10:30 and the march at 11 a.m.), and told them, “This isn’t just one day a year, like Christmas, this is every day.” He couldn’t be more right; the worst thing that parents and teachers and students can do is think having a march like this is good enough and we don’t need to do or say anymore about it. The fact is, there needs to be a constant vigilance watching out for those unable to defend themselves who are put down and bullied by people who are stronger or bigger or in authority over them.
We all need to have a heart for helping the helpless, much as those two high school students did in Nova Scotia; they and some friends bought up some pink shirts and handed them out the next day at the school, in support of that student.
The pink shirt is just a symbol, of course; it’s a matter of changing people’s attitudes, and this is extremely difficult to do, as any parent or teacher can tell you.
The value of a symbol like this is it can open up a dialogue of sorts in the public, and get people talking about this, and about different ways that bullying can be prevented.
Just having people openly acknowledge that it is happening is a step in the right direction; this will hopefully be followed by actions, and slowly, day by day, month by month, we can meet the issue of bullying head on and over time, help make ours a peaceful and accepting society.