We sat around the table tonight, talking about Pink Shirt day. In the beginning, the idea was fantastic. A boy chose not to follow the crowd and was bullied, so the crowd showed their support. However, I am always hesitant when people decide that we all must now make this a 'day' where we all must 'conform' and do the same thing to show our support. As Kevin pointed out, what about the kids who don't have a pink shirt? What about the ones who can't buy one, or borrow one? He says that he has known kids who have been bullied for NOT having a pink shirt.
Wow. real twisted message there.
In our experiences, I have found that there has always been lots of talk of support and help out there for kids and families dealing with bullying, but I've never found it. When Kevin was 8 and we lived on Vancouver Island, we were told nothing could be done about the kid in our townhouse complex who kept beating him up the minute he stepped out the door. Another time, I made phone calls seeking help from the RCMP, and was laughed at.
Even the youth against violence hotline sadly told me that really, nothing could be done.
My son left public school because of a bullying incident that was the last straw and didn't leave the house for six full months, while we tried to unravel a mess and have the truth brought out.
We can wear pink shirts and sing Born This Way, but it does very little when a mother calls the RCMP for help after a bullying incident and is told that "I knew a kid like yours in high school. Kids don't think that far outside of themselves anyway. This sounds all very conspiracy theory." and when the mother finally bursts into tears from frustration, implies she's simply hysterical.
I was never hysterical. I told the truth. I'm a law abiding citizen who hasn't even had a traffic ticket. I expected help or at least, options and definitely not that the RCMP wouldn't believe me at all. I expected that they would talk to my son, not wait until 6 months after the fact and only when we protested that their records were wrong-which actually HELPED the bullies.
I don't have the answers. I think bullying is a complicated and multilayered issue that can't be solved easily, and while we are trying, if the very people who are supposed to protect our kids are much bigger bullies than the bullies themselves, we have a far deeper and more dangerous issue than one which can be solved by donning a pink shirt.
For me, this is a very frightening thought indeed but in the end begs the question; if it frightens me, how do you think it makes my 16 year old feel?
"Mom, this is why kids kill themselves."
Don't just wear a pink shirt. LIVE it.
Edited to add: check out more thoughts on Pink Shirt Day by Raul and Chickymara!
Photo credit: Take Five