Pink Shirt Day. A message from our Student Leaders.

Sunday 19th May 2024

In a recent assembly, Ollie Hamilton and Liam Barron addressed the school to spread a message of care and respect.

"This Friday, May 17th, our college is once again rallying together for Pink Shirt Day. It’s a day where we unite in a sea of pink, not just for fashion's sake, but to take a stand against bullying. So, dig out your pink shirts and join us in supporting this important cause.

But what exactly is bullying? It’s not just a simple disagreement or a harmless joke. Bullying is the deliberate act of causing harm to another person, whether it’s through physical means, words, or online. It’s about wielding power over someone else, often leaving lasting scars on the victim.

And make no mistake, bullying is a significant issue, especially here in New Zealand. Shockingly, our country ranks third highest for bullying among the 36 OECD nations. In New Zealand, 32% of school students report being bullied several times a month, far above the global average of 23%. These statistics paint a stark reality – change is imperative, and it's needed urgently.

The effects of bullying are profound and far-reaching. It's not just about a few hurtful words or a shove in the hallway. Bullying can lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, hinder academic performance, and induce social isolation. These impacts can linger into adulthood, affecting one's overall well-being and quality of life.

So, what’s the significance of Pink Shirt Day? It originated in Canada in 2007 when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying. They distributed pink shirts among their peers to symbolise solidarity against bullying. Pink Shirt Day serves as a reminder to raise awareness about bullying and its harmful effects.

Identifying the perpetrators is crucial. Often, bullies themselves are grappling with insecurities, using their actions as a distraction from their own issues. But it’s not just about pointing fingers; it’s about reflecting on our own behaviours. Have we ever laughed at someone else's expense? It's essential to hold ourselves to higher standards and strive to do better.

Bullying manifests in various forms – verbal, physical, and increasingly, through cyber means. Cyberbullying, in particular, is escalating, as bullies hide behind screens to torment others, exacerbating their own low self-esteem.

Bystanders play a significant role. By remaining silent, they inadvertently empower the bully and contribute to the victim's suffering. It's time to introspect. Have we been bystanders in the past? Are we bystanders now? It's not about being perfect; it's about acknowledging our actions and committing to change.

Enter the concept of an upstander – someone who refuses to be a bystander, who calls out bullying for what it is and offers support to the victim. Statistics show that more than half of bullying situations end when a bystander intervenes. Each one of us has the power to make a difference.

Being an upstander isn't easy, but it's achievable. Whether it's offering support to the victim, distracting from the situation, or directly confronting the bully, there are multiple ways to intervene. It might feel uncomfortable, but it's worth it.

And if you find yourself on the receiving end of bullying, remember, you are not alone. Reach out for help – to a trusted adult, a family member, or our school counsellor. There's no shame in seeking support, and there's certainly no place for bullying in our school.

Let’s remember the message – bullying has no place in our community. By standing up against it, we not only protect others but also foster a culture of empathy and respect."