{ i'm wearing pink wednesday. are you? }

Imagine No Bullying
{Shirts from London Drugs support anti-bullying programs in SK}
Pink Day -- a nationwide movement that takes place on February 24 to create awareness and prevention of bullying -- feels even closer to my heart this year.

My son was so excited to start Grade 1 last year. He was that kid in Kindergarten who would cry when he was sick and had to miss school.

So, I was sort of shocked when his excitement quickly changed to tears every morning when it was time to go into his Grade 1 classroom. For weeks, I tried to get to the bottom of it with both him and his teacher. Getting no specific answers, I just assumed this was another phase of adjustment and growth he was facing.

Finally, one day after school, he came out of the classroom smiling and skipping. He told me he had a great day. I was thrilled to hear him speaking positively about school again. On the drive home, I asked him to tell me more about the things that made his day go well. I was shocked to hear him say the best thing about his day was that a certain other child was not at school.

When we got home, my son's pent-up emotions finally poured out of him. The reporter inside me grabbed a pen and paper and asked if I could write down what he was saying so that I would not forget anything. Here is a small excerpt from two pages of notes I collected from our conversation that day:
"Mommy, this boy is older and bigger than me. He won't listen when I say stop and that he is hurting me. He chases me down, chokes me with my shirt, bucks me down, makes me eat sand and laughs. He is pretending to kill me, but he is really going to kill me. He is never going to stop, so this is going to happen every day of every year I go to this school. You have to take me to another school or I will die."
{Oh. My. Heart!}

I put the pen and paper down, took him into my arms and said, "I am so sorry this has been happening. This is not OK. We are going to do everything we can to make sure this does not happen anymore."

He cried and thanked me for listening, as I cried and thanked him for telling me.

I typed up everything that my son had shared with me, and used his own words to enlist help from his teacher and principal. They dealt with the situation swiftly, compassionately and professionally. It was incredibly reassuring for me and for my son. And,  most importantly, the bullying stopped immediately.

I asked him later why he hadn't told me or his teacher about it all sooner. He said he had told an adult on the playground a couple times about the behaviours, but it was his word against the other boy's. The playground monitors had told them to work it out and go back out to play and evidently never saw the actions happening. While I can understand the response, my young son took it to heart and felt that no one could see or even cared about what was happening to him.

The ways we, as adults, address bullying matters. We cannot {and should not} intervene in every interpersonal relationship our children have as they grow. But we can {and should} let them know by our words and by our actions that bullying is not acceptable, that they have their own inner strength, worth and power to find solutions, that they are always safe to share and they will always be heard, loved and supported. 

I think it is wonderful that many local schools and businesses will be taking a stand against bullying as they recognize Pink Day. This annual movement has grown dramatically since 2007, when two Grade 12 students in Nova Scotia encouraged schoolmates to wear pink in support of a student who they witnessed being bullied for wearing pink to school.

pink day 2016
As parents, we can support this effort by dressing our families in pink on Wednesday. The official 2016 Red Cross Pink Day campaign wristbands and T-shirts {like the ones my kids and I are wearing} are available at both Saskatoon London Drugs locations: 2323 8th Street East and the Mall at Lawson Heights. Shirt and wristband combos are available for $20, plus tax, with net proceeds supporting Red Cross bullying prevention programs in Saskatchewan.

Even if pink is simply not your colour, we all can encourage open lines of communication about bullying behaviours and can maintain a no-tolerance attitude toward bullying within our families and communities each and every day. It will take a year-round effort from the whole community to eliminate bullying.

Visit this Canadian Red Cross resource for parents or the Erase Bullying web site for helpful guidelines in talking with kids about bullying.




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