Pink Shirt Day is inspired by the story of two Nova Scotia teens who invited students at their school to wear pink as a show of support for another student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. The movement quickly gained momentum and now each year it is a powerful testament to the impact we can have when we choose to help others rise above bullying by offering compassion and support. This is true both in our physical world and online.
This year, the focus for Pink Shirt Day is cyberbullying. When you consider that 42% of Canadian youth report being cyberbullying in the last four weeks, this theme could not be more fitting. Fortunately the majority of youth in Canada want to do something to help, and that is why TELUS, in partnership with MediaSmarts, developed a new workshop called TELUS WISE impact. Launched in January 2018, the workshop engages middle school and junior high students (Grades 6-9) in a conversation around cyberbullying, helping them explore and understand different options for safe and appropriate ways of intervening when they witness cruel behaviour online.
Often times when cyberbullying is witnessed, youth may be concerned about making the situation worse or becoming the target themselves if they intervene. They may also be reluctant to intervene because they don’t want to get involved in other people’s business or they may minimize the severity of the situation, brushing it off as just a joke or ‘drama.’ It’s easy to make these types of excuses and fall into these ‘empathy traps’ in an online environment where you don’t see the hurt in the other person’s eyes.
TELUS WISE impact explores these reasons for not intervening when cruel behaviour is witnessed online, but more importantly, offers effective strategies for youth to rise above cyberbullying and intervene in a positive way. The main message is that there is always something you can do to help, and when you do intervene it can make a big difference. The go-to strategy is talking to the target in private. Simply letting the person know that what happened was wrong and that you’re there for them can be hugely impactful.
As a mother of two kids, I want to do all that I can to ensure my children and others are safe online and free from the worry of cyberbullying. I also want to empower them to stand up for others when they see someone being bullied online.
The TELUS team, my family and I will be wearing pink on Pink Shirt Day and I invite you to as well. Visit PinkShirtDay.ca for other ways to get involved.
If you are interested in booking a TELUS WISE impact workshop for your school or your child’s school please contact us.