Whether your child attends class in-person or remotely, Surrey Schools is reminding students to wear their pink shirts on Wednesday, Feb. 24 to participate in Pink Shirt Day.
The annual event has been encouraging communities to take a stand against bullying for more than a decade, but the usual rallies and school assemblies of previous years will look a little different with the current health and safety protocols.
“Schools are getting creative in the ways they’re getting the message out,” said Sarah McKay, manager of the district’s Safe Schools department, noting many schools are still planning events within cohorts. “The messaging and the reason we have Pink Shirt Day remains the same though, and is an important reminder that respecting one another is not just for one day.”
This year’s theme is “Lift Each Other Up,” reminding students to support each other through kindness and compassion. McKay said it’s just as important for kids to hear anti-bullying messages, whether in the classroom or learning from home, as harassment and intimidation can happen anywhere, including online.
“The urge to stay behind a screen and say something that you wouldn’t to someone’s face has increased for kids, and people need to understand it’s still really impactful,” she said.
According to the Protecting Surrey Students Together (PSST) website (www.psst-bc.ca), some signs to watch for if you think your child or a friend is being bullied include:
· disliking school
· having few to no friends
· lack of focus
· being quiet, withdrawn or gloomy
· being difficult or argumentative
· having unexplained injuries
· low self-esteem
· becoming easily frustrated
While some students may not feel comfortable talking to their parents or teachers if they’re getting bullied, McKay said it’s important parents maintain open communication with their children so they feel safe to come forward and talk to someone about what they’re going through.
“Just make sure they understand that feeling unsafe and bullied isn’t okay,” said McKay. “A school is supposed to be a safe space. And with students on social media and easy access to sending messages to others, conversations about safe internet use are really important as well.”
Students are encouraged to report unsafe behaviour to trusted adults such as parents, teachers and counsellors. The district’s Safe School Liaisons can provide secondary students with help if they are being harassed, and students and parents can also anonymously report unsafe or concerning incidents through www.psst-bc.ca/report-it.
For more resources on bullying, visit psst-bc.ca