Take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt DaySave
By Shauni James
KEY POINTSPink Shirt Day is coming up to raise awareness around bullying.
This Friday many around the city will stand together to take action against bullying.
Celebrated annually around the globe, Pink Shirt Day aims to create schools, workplaces and communities where all people feel safe, valued and respected.
Next week is also Bullying-Free NZ Week, which ends with the Pink Shirt Day.
Bullying-Free NZ Week is an initiative of the Bullying Prevention Advisory Group, a collaboration of 18 organisations committed to reducing bullying in schools, including representatives from across the education, social, justice and health sectors, as well as Netsafe and human rights advocacy groups.
Leigh Richards-Ward, community-led manager at the Mokoia Community Association, said that for the past four years the Eastside Community Collective had been working alongside their communities to find out things they needed to work on to make Eastside a better place to live, work and play.
She said one of the feedback points they got was on making Eastside a better place for children.
The Eastside Child Friendly initiative came out of that and was launched last year.
They also conducted an Eastside Youth Perception Survey, with 854 children from six schools in Years 5 and up taking part.
"It was a bit heart-breaking to hear that bullying was one of the things our young people were needing to deal with," Mrs Richards-Ward said.
Bullying was not just a problem within the Eastside community, it was a widespread issue, she said.
She said throughout next week they would be holding activities with anti-bullying and positive behaviour messages.
"It's not necessarily just Pink Shirt Day. It's about every day acknowledging that bullying could be experienced by our young people, and it's important we support those that are being bullied, and those carrying out bullying behaviour, to make a positive change."
Saint Michael's Catholic School principal Shelly Fitness said the school would hold a pink mufti day fundraiser for Pink Shirt Day.
"We just think it's good to raise awareness about bullying and to just allow our children to see it's something we talk openly about here."
She said it was also about the key messages of standing up for yourself and your friends.
Rotorua Lakes High School principal Bruce Walker said Year 12 students Alex Neff and Cullen Dittmer, along with their Year 12 Level Two Health class, were organising a mufti day where students could wear pink and pink cupcakes would be sold.
There would be prizes for the best dressed and the class had also approached local businesses for sponsorship, he said.
Mr Walker said with social media, bullying was something hard to get away from.
"I think the more we talk about bullying the better."
New online resources to support schools, parents and their communities to tackle bullying have just been launched at www.BullyingFree.NZ.