Thousands of students in Delta and Surrey are taking a pledge tomorrow.
Some will dip their hands in paint, while others will pen their names on posters. But it’ll all be for the same purpose: to help eliminate bullying.
In Delta, teens at the seven high schools will demonstrate their promise by painting their palms pink and stamping them on large, dove-shaped murals that will remain on school walls as an ongoing reminder to treat one another with respect and kindness. Spearheaded by members of the Delta Police Youth Advisory Committee, the initiative targets not only bullying, but all forms of relationship violence. The dove shapes symbolize peace and love and also represents the D.O.V.E. (Delta Opposes Violence Everywhere) community committee.
Students at all Surrey schools will be adding their signatures to large anti-bullying posters (designed by student Kayla Wold and featuring the words “you are not alone”) to vow to help recognize, prevent, resolve and ultimately eliminate bullying in society. All Surrey schools have also been provided with pink wristbands printed with “See Something, Say Something.”
The student pledges mark Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day, an annual campaign that began four years ago. It was inspired when two students in Nova Scotia witnessed a younger student being bullied for wearing pink to school. They went out and bought dozens of pink shirts and encouraged all their classmates to wear pink the next day to send a message to the bullies as well as show their support to the harassed boy.
Since then, the movement has spread across Canada and now, on the last Wednesday in February each year, schools and individuals and businesses take a day to don their rosiest hues to show they’re against bullying – be it in schools, in the workplace, in the grocery store or at home.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) in Grade 10 classrooms at Surrey’s Enver Creek Secondary, student members of the Stand-Up People (SUP) Action Team will be sharing stories and talking about things like peer pressure, inappropriate language and being “active witnesses.”
Grade 11 student Joanne Yoon has been with SUP since Grade 8.
“I’m Asian, so I’m different,” Yoon says of her initial desire to be part of the group. “Even though I’m different I feel I’m still welcomed in this country and in this school. I wanted to share that feeling … that everyone should feel they’re at home at school and outside school.”
Yogita Sharma, a Grade 12 student, says the group has focussed on verbal bullying, which can often be more pervasive and hurtful than physical violence.
“Emotional scars will always stay,” Sharma says.
Nelson Hoang, 18, agrees.
“Your words are the most powerful tool, but it can work both ways. They can be used both to hurt someone or in preventing someone from getting hurt.”
They are convinced the impact of SUP’s message is more powerful because it’s delivered to students by students. And they believe the respectful and welcoming tone at their high school is evidence that what SUP is doing is making a difference.
“When you step into Enver Creek, you feel at home. Everyone is so friendly and together – it’s a really nice place to be,” says Sharma, who encourages other schools to take a similar, student-led approach stop bullying.
Since early February, students in kindergarten through Grade 5 were invited to share stories, videos and art on Surrey’s anti-bullying website (www.psst-bc.ca) for a contest, the winner of which will be announced Wednesday. An anti-bullying video acting/singing contest for students in Grade 6 and up is still open (also at psst-bc.ca) until March 2.
50% of Canadians bullied
According to a national survey released last week, half of all Canadian adults report being bullied when they were children or teens.
Commissioned by Big Brothers and Sisters of Canada, the Harris/Decima survey revealed that of those who reported being bullied, nearly a third felt the abuse they suffered caused lasting harm.
Ninety-seven per cent of British Columbians said people have a responsibility to take action to stop bullies, while 91 per cent thought action to reduce bullying strengthens communities over time.