My first thoughts about Pink Shirt Day, is that it doesn’t work. This was reinforced when both my kids told me today that they had been, in their own words, bullied. The word, for my kids, basically means any ass-holish behaviour directed at them. Their definition of the term, no matter the talks, the videos, the pamphlets, etc., remains simplistic and misses the mark when it comes to what bullying really is.
Yes ass-holish behaviour by any kid directed at them could be defined as bullying….but I had it in my mind that this behaviour had to continue and be a bit more focused than one kids being a jerk at them on the playground one day. What I am seeing from my kids is that for them the classic – tv cartoony type – of behaviour is what they see as bullying, and not much else.
They still don’t see the more subtle aspects of bullying as bullying. They don’t define the nasty passive aggressive talk, the ‘we can’t play with you today’ talk, the negative peer pressure (don’t talk to him/her) or any of the what we would call ‘mean’ behaviour as bullying. When my son jokingly belittles his sister he looks shocked when I point out that that type of talk is actually bullying since it digs at a persons confidence and feelings.
Caity comes home with stories of what were once friends being snide and sneaky and she does not see that as bullying.
The campaigns are not working. It works in as much for when my kids DO perceive someone to be being bullied by their definition they now feel brave enough to stand up for either themselves or their friends. Adam speaks out and defends himself and his sister (oh the irony) and his peers. However, I still think the subtleties of nasty and alienating behaviour are being lost on them. I think the damage gets done to their emotional well being but they are not getting the tools (from school anyway) on how to defend themselves from it all.
Kids can be nasty. The psychological games they play can be cruel and cutting, no matter what YOU are. Honest to goodness bullying has nothing to do with weather the victim is straight, gay, trans, white, black, yellow, red, yadda yadda. It is about someone using words and subtle actions to separate one person from the herd and turn the herd against them. Bullying is about making someone feel alone. Bullying is making someone feel that THEY are in the wrong. Bullying is about making someone feel worthless.
I sadly really do not think the ‘awareness’ is making the kids aware at all. The kids who are guilty of the ass-holish behaviour will proudly wear their pink shirts tomorrow while doing the exact behaviour we SHOULD define as bullying without understanding at all how cruel and wrong they are.