Bullying takes many forms.
It can be loud and physical, as in the stereotypical ‘shove the smallest kid in the locker’ scenario.
It can also be silent and torturous — imagine being left out of the group, time and time again.
It takes place in the schoolyard, but bullying doesn’t stop there. It’s not just in schools, and it’s not just a child’s problem.
While the word ‘bully’ has gotten a lot of media time in recent years, there is a long list of abusive behaviours that fall under the term. Anywhere there is an agressor, there is often a victim.
Elder abuse. Sexual assualt. Gang attacks. Homophobic violence. Spousal assault. Child abuse. Workplace harrassment.
These are adult problems — massive, tragic, debilitating problems that need to be addressed.
Are we getting close to reducing any of the above? Hardly. But we need to keep trying.
To that end, Feb. 27 is Pink Shirt Day in British Columbia. Students are being encouraged to wear pink, but also being taught to be more empathetic. It’s a commendable way to engage children in discussions about bullying, and we will be wearing pink at The Observer in support of the initiative.
If we can help even one child speak up and feel heard, or encourage another child to see their peers as equals instead of emotional punching bags, then we’d be thrilled.
But what would be even more satisfying is knowing that adults out there would agree to take the time to reflect on their own behaviour that day.
Have you pushed around a co-worker lately? Ignored someone else being bullied? Exercised cruelty when dealing with a child or elder? Most importantly, are you behaving in a way that your children would be proud of?
Because if we know one thing, it’s that they’re watching.
Agassiz Harrison Observer