What use to be just blown off as being ‘teased’ or ‘picked on’ has over the years escalated and taken on a whole new life. Bullying has become a huge epidemic in our society and affects so many people. Making matters worse, bullies now have the luxury of cowardly hiding behind their computers and phones and cyber bullying via social media. We’ve all seen it…grown adults becoming terribly nasty to each other on social media – making bullying not just something that affects children.
Bullying can be verbal (name-calling, put-downs, and threats), homophobic bullying, transphobic bullying, social (exclusion, gossip, ganging up), physical (hitting, damaging property) or cyberbullying (using the computer to harass or threaten). Bullying can occur within a peer group or between groups. It can occur at home, at school, at work and in sports.
The youth of Synergy have never been quiet about where they stand on the topic of bullying. Participating and organizing many events over the years letting the community know that they will not only not tolerate bullying, but they want to be a safe place for youth to turn to should they be experiencing bullying.
‘Pretty in Pink’ is an event that both the YELL Youth Council and Synergy have partnered on to bring to Chestermere and Langdon. Rayane Issa is the project lead for this initiative and says, “‘Pretty in Pink’ takes place in February leading up to the widely celebrated Pink Shirt Day. Pink Shirt Day brings awareness to the issue of bullying by encouraging the community to wear a pink shirt to signify their support against bullying.”
YELL puts their own unique spin on this event by fundraising ‘Pretty in Pink’ buttons to be worn instead of pink shirts. With a voluntary donation of $2/youth and $5/adult the community can help express support for the cause. Each year the proceeds go towards a charity that the YELL (Youth Encouraging Lasting Leadership) Group has thoughtfully selected to support through their fundraising opportunities. This year, YELL has selected the Children’s Wish Foundation as their charity.
“Children’s Wish Foundation provides a positive environment for a vulnerable group of kids who are often targets of bullying”, explains Issa.
So why buttons instead of shirts? “We’ve found that there are many people who simply don’t own a pink shirt or prefer not to wear pink but do feel comfortable wearing a small button. Many people purchase their shirts from outside of the community and we felt that if we had a local initiative we could ensure the funds raised would go to a charity that was accessible to local residents. Also, some students were, ironically, starting to get bullied for their choice NOT to wear pink on that day. Finally, a button can be displayed year round, instead of a pink shirt that may only be worn one day of the year”, says Issa.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has some alarming statistics on bullying in our country:
• Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying in the 13-years-olds category on a scale of 35 countries
• At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently
• Among adult Canadians, 38% of males and 30% of females reported having experienced occasional or frequent bullying during their school years
• 47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying
• Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideas in youth
• The rate of discrimination experienced among students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-identified, Two-Spirited, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) is three times higher than heterosexual youth
• Girls are more likely to be bullied on the Internet than boys
• 7% of adult Internet users in Canada, age 18 years and older, self-reported having been a victim of cyber-bullying at some point in their life
• The most common form of cyber-bullying involved receiving threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages, reported by 73% of victims
• 40% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis
This young leader went on to say that “the best way to combat bullying is by encouraging positive, healthy relationships with peers and adults. A sense of community is key to making sure everyone feels like they belong. As a community we need to stand together and put an end to this. I find such a cause extremely important mainly because as sad as it might seem bullying is still on going, and many individuals are being targeted, I believe that us a community can put a stop it”.
You can show your support and take a stand against bullying by picking up your button at any of these community locations:
• Langdon Bakery Shop
• Langdon Coffee store
• Pet Planet
• Buy Low
• MLA’S office
• Waiting Room Café
• Life Path Wellness
• Chestermere Camp
• City Hall
• Chestermere High School