On Pink Shirt Day, in addition to wearing my pink shirt, I want to have an honest conversation with Albertans about bullying. This conversation begins with awareness of bullying behaviour, an understanding of the insidious impacts of bullying, and an awareness of resources to help those who are victims of bullying.
Bullying is described as intentionally hurtful, mean behaviour inflicted on another by someone with more power.
Bullying can take many forms, including verbal, physical, cyberbullying and social exclusion. Bullying can also happen to anyone – children and adults alike. Current statistics show that almost one third of all Canadian adults have experienced bullying in some form.
The impacts of bullying can be devastating. Victims can feel pain, humiliation and depression, and may have suicidal thoughts.
It is also important to highlight that bullying can harm bystanders. Whether bystanders choose to be silent or feel powerless and fearful that they could be the next victim, the dread of feeling unable to speak up or intervene can manifest itself in feelings of shame, anxiety and helplessness.
Putting an end to bullying begins with awareness.
We must recognize different forms of bullying and identify the warning signs and impacts. We must understand the role of the bystander, and know what resources are available to help.
There are resources on the Government of Alberta’s website that can assist. Please visit alberta.ca/Bullying. Alberta’s government has invested in many bullying prevention initiatives and we are actively reviewing them to ensure they reflect the needs of all communities across our province.
Fourteen years ago today, two teens from Nova Scotia saw one of their classmates being bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. These students took a stand and created a legacy of action by buying dozens of pink shirts and handing them out to students and teachers at their high school.
While it was a simple gesture of support for their schoolmate, it made a powerful statement: Bullying would not be tolerated in their school.
On Pink Shirt Day, we are wearing our pink shirts while taking every opportunity to stand up to bullying. And in light of the increased isolation people are feeling as a result of the pandemic, let’s be extra vigilant in letting people in need know that help is available by calling the Bullying Helpline at 1-888-456-2323 or through the online chat, available at alberta.ca/BullyingChat.