Friday, April 12, 2013

Accidental activist

A year ago I wrote an essay about why I don't think wearing a pink t-shirt once a year is the best way to support anti-bullying efforts.  You can read it here.  You can learn more about the sweet gesture this day has stemmed from here.

Pink Shirt day rolled around again.  My local radio station hopped on the bandwagon and asked people to post pictures of themselves in their pink t-shirts on Facebook. (I even noticed one of my own personal Jr High bullies decked out in her anti-bullying pink on Facebook yesterday)

 I posted a link to my blog piece instead.  It kind of took off like wildfire and I inspired a very big debate on the radio station wall. Here is a small sample of the comments I received:

Click to see this full-size 

Click to see this full-size
My feelings about this day have not changed.  I still feel like it is a bandaid solution for a much bigger problem.  I still try daily to teach my kids not to be assholes, just like I said I did last year.
I got 1000 hits on my blog that day.  That is a record for me. I also got a couple of new comments that I'd like to address here.

Brianna said: Actually in school I was told that we wear pink on that day to honor a boy who was beaten up for wearing pink. You seem so passionate about the bullying issue but you get offended by this little anti bullying thing? I don't understand why it is such a big deal that your friend would go out of her way not to support it. You're really weird you know that? Pink day was a fun day at school and it encourages boys to wear whatever colours they want. It made my brother feel comfortable about his image too. on I am not wearing pink today. 

 Brianna: I feel like the gesture the friends of that boy in Nova Scotia who was beaten up was very sweet.  It was the sort of very sweet, personal gesture that the media seems to love to eat up and turn into a New Big Thing.  It was fantastic for the friends of that boy to stand up with him and help him.  I feel like it has become less personal now that it has been turned into a bandwagon.  I am very passionate about protecting myself and children from bullies.  Pink Shirt Day does not offend me, per se, but I feel like we need more than one day out of the year to address the many layers of issues that contribute to the problem of bullying.  That was what I was saying in my blog post last year.  I am very glad you had fun at school and that the pink shirt helped your brother stretch his wings and feel good about himself.  I hope you and your brother can keep that energy going and keep the anti-bullying message alive for more than just one day this year.  Yep. I am weird. That is probably why I was picked on so much in school.  It took me a very long time to learn to love and accept my weirdness.  Now I embrace it.

Cheribear said: It is so rare to see someone admit 'I am the parent of a bully!' - that is the problem I think. If we are all *anti-bullying' then everyone is against the bully. Nobody is owning that we are raising bullies, supporting bullies, and letting them get away with it. Anyone who has more than one child has probably witnessed their own child being a bully at home with their siblings. Is it much of a stretch to imagine your child exhibiting that *same* behavior in another setting - at school, on playdates, etc? The sooner that parents start admitting that their own children behave as bullies and addressing how to raise them not to behave that way, the better. Instead, we're just raising our kids to call out other kids on bullying and 'stand up against' bullying. Because none of *our* kids would do that. It's everyone else's kid! on I am not wearing pink today.

Thank you for your kind words, Cheribear.  That is the hard work of parenting, isn't it? Admitting when our precious little snowflakes might have a little mud on them that needs taking care of.

I guess by not wearing a pink shirt I still inspired debate and conversation and I got people thinking about how they really feel.  The pink shirt won anyway.

1 comment:

Ami said...

Pretty nutty how people 'read' what you have to say. So many don't ponder the actual depth and breadth of the words.

I hate bullying, but I don't know a single child who hasn't engaged in some form of it.

That's where adults should always be vigilant and guide kids... let them understand why what they're doing is harmful to the person or people involved.

Teaching empathy is much more difficult than wearing a pink shirt and saying, "Bullying's bad, m'kay?"

It requires a sustained effort of years and years, and the combined resources of every adult who comes in contact with a child.

By the time the kid isn't a kid anymore... well, too late.