'Cyberbullying' focus of Pink Shirt Day

By Tanya Cronin
February 28, 2018 - 4:47pm Updated: February 28, 2018 - 5:26pm

KAMLOOPS — It's a symbol that bullying won't be tolerated. Pink Shirt Day is a national anti-bullying movement that started 11 years ago by two Nova Scotia teens, after they noticed a classmate was being picked on for wearing pink. This year, the campaign is focused on cyberbullying at one point, almost all bullying took place in person. Physical altercations, hurtful comments and even gossip, was conducted face-to-face, but now it's becoming more and more prevelant online. In the Kamloops-Thompson School District, students stood together to spread the powerful anti-bullying message.

In a digital world where filtered photos and crafted messages can be posted in an instant, the face of bullying is changing. The internet creating an online playground of hurtful comments that are hard to escape.

"On social media you're not saying it straight to their face, it's anonymous and you don't get to know the full story of what's happening on social media," says Shaylin Kovacs, Grade 12 Valleview Secondary Student.

'Nice needs no filter' the slogan for this year's Pink Shirt Day, a campaign shining the spotlight on cyberbullying. 

That anti-bullying movement was felt loud and clear at Valleyview Secondary today. The gymnasium transformed into a sea of pink, students joining tens of thousands across the country, to say enough is enough.

"I have experienced bullying before, lots of my friends have also experienced before, and it's not a nice feeling," says Kovacs.

"It's an important conversation to have, it's about getting students to be conscientious about how their words can impact others and how their actions can change how others people feel," says Paige McIlwain, Grade 12 Valleyview Secondary Student.

Through music, a slide show, and kind phrases, these students stood in solidarity in the fight against bullying. Adorned in a colour that could once make a student feel ridiculed, now a symbol of strength. 

"This is really about a celebration of kindness and empathy, it's an opportunity to stop, drop and think about how we conduct ourselves with others and how we interact," says Barb Hamblett, Principal of Valleyview Secondary School.

Nearly all teens have access to the internet and too many experience cyberbullying, which can be linked to depression and anxiety. 

"It's really important teaching kids all about digital literacy and just how much their digital footprint carries forward, they may make some decisions to put something in a text, but our job is to help them undertand the impact of that and really think before they text."

That message a conversation happening online in a virtual display of support, using the internet to spread kindness. And emphasizing that the impacts of bullying can last a lifetime.  

"I feel like there's a lot of negative on social media, but it can really be used in a positive way as well too, look at all the movements, 'Me Too' and all of those things really help bring people together and that needs to be highlighted as well," says McIlwain.

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