If you’re not Canadian, you might not be wearing a pink shirt today. You should!
David Shepherd and Travis Price, two very cool guys whose names should be household words as avatars of compassion, saw a new kid at their Nova Scotia High school get bullied on his first day of school in 2007 — for daring to wear a pink polo shirt. David and Travis went right out and bought every pink shirt they could find and persuaded other kids in their school to wear one in solidarity with the victim — and to mock the bullies.
If only every person who sees someone being bullied mustered the bravery to do something equally loving and supportive. How different, and better, our world would be!
This year an estimated 13 million children will be bullied in the United States.
(That’s three times the population of Ireland. Nice.)
Pink Shirt Day — Feb. 29 — is now a national, powerful, highly visible movement in my native Canada, and a clear way to show support for, and solidarity with, those whose lives are being made a living hell by the weak and cowardly wretches who taunt them.
I was bullied mercilessly in my middle-class Toronto high school for three years. I’d arrived, halfway through Grade 10, to a cliquish place where everyone had attended the same elementary and middle schools together. A trio of boys decided to make me the object of their daily derision.
Their tactics included putting a dog biscuit on my desk, barking at me and shouting “Doglin!” down those echoing hallways. I cried (never publicly), over-ate, shouted back, felt ugly for many years afterward.
No one in authority at my school — fully aware of this behavior and its effects on me — did a thing.
I wrote about this for USA Today, an essay that still draws reaction. A few months ago, a total stranger living upstate from me in a small town called me out of the blue — to ask my advice for her young son, being bullied by a young girl (!) whose parents (of course) hold positions of authority and who knew she could keep getting away with it.
They are suing their school officials and their son has watched these adults line up to lie and cover their taxpayer-paid asses. Talk about an education.
I don’t have kids, but I do know what it feels like to be singled out for abuse, to have adults turn a blind eye, to have fellow students snicker in voyeuristic pleasure — sighing with relief it isn’t them.
Lee Hirsch, another former bullying victim, has made a new documentary, Bully, in theatres March 30. I applaud his commitment to making this film and everyone associated with it.
If you know anyone, anywhere, being bullied, do the right thing.
Step up! Speak out!
Bullies are monsters.
Stop one today.