Pink shirts – against bullying, against breast cancer, against gender roles
The color pink symbolizes a lot of different things. Femininity, breast cancer, anti-bullying, and other things. When a person is wearing a pink shirt, it is typically to represent one of the above-mentioned three things – femininity sometimes unconsciously, or only because that’s what their parents by for them. Recently, pink shirts have come to further represent the latter two issues, as breast cancer awareness became more prevalent in the 90’s and beyond. Specifically, wearing pink shirts is something that one would commonly see on awareness days, such as anti bullying day and pink shirt day. What has also been seen in our society is a rejection of gender roles, that dictate that blue is male, and pink is female. Not only are more men and boys wearing pink shirts willfully (and not just because the reds ruined their white shirts), but more people are becoming more willing to accept it as a normal, everyday thing.
Bullying is a serious problem all over the world. It is the natural result of any situation or position wherein someone perceives someone as weak, and therefore tries to bolster their own self by preying upon that person. This kind of behavior is often reinforced by authority figures such as teachers and parents not doing enough to discourage this kind of violence. On one hand, we will see people claim that “kids will be kids,” or they will simply administer too light a punishment, which fails to impress upon the child that serious consequences can result from their actions. This leads to further perpetuation of that behavior, and studies show that people who are victims of bullying go on to become bullies and abusers themselves.
What harm does bullying actually cause?
As discussed in the previous section, a lot of people shrug off bullying as a harmless crime. Some parents will tell them to just ignore it, while others will tell them to stand up to bullies – which often leads to further bullying, and sometimes even serious escalation thereof. Bullying can lead to long-term emotional and sometimes even physical trauma, going well into someone’s adulthood. It can make it more difficult for a person to live a normal life, such as get a job, start a family, or buy a house. It is also not too common that a victim of childhood bullying can get help coping with it in adulthood, due to the high entry cost.
What to do if you or someone you know is being bullied, or if someone you know is bullying
It’s not easy to speak up about the former, and definitely not easy to speak up about the latter.
The former is a delicate situation, where you or your friend may be worried about being outed and find yourself the victim of further bullying. While this is a rationale fear, at the same time, remaining silent is not going to help anything, either. It’s important that you be able to find someone who can help you deal with these problems quickly and effectively, and who understands how to deal with them. A guidance counselor is often your best bet.
The trickier situation is if you feel that a friend of yours is doing wrong. It’s hard to even gauge whether they are actually bullies even – it’s hard to get over a bias you may have for you friend, and you may fear that you may get your friend in deep trouble. While he or she will indeed get in trouble, it’s your responsibility to help stop violence against your fellow classmates and ignore loyalty to your friends.
With the advent and subsequent popularity of the Internet, bullying has become a greater problem than it ever has been before. Bullies are now able to quickly and easily stalk their prey online, and due to the anonymity of the Internet, they often don’t get caught for it. A popular idea is that cyber bullies are even more brazen and potentially harmful than a bully in real life, if only due to the fact that the Internet is kind of like the equivalent of Popeye’s spinach. People who may not think to do it in real life – either because they are worried about their image, or are fearful that they may get it right back from the friends of their victim – are a lot more likely to become bullies when given anonymity. Even victims of bullying will often misdirect their trauma towards further bullying and victimization. It’s a vicious circle of creating new bullies to replace the old ones, and it’s a powerful circle at that.
One case in particular that notably made the news was the one of Amanda Todd. She had gone on the Internet and showed her breasts on webcam. This lead to one particular viewer trying to harass her with images of her, and trying to destroy her image offline. No matter how much she tried to escape this harassment, he was always one step behind her. Eventually, it reached a breaking point, and Todd killed herself when she could no longer deal with her harasser. They thankfully arrested the person responsible, but the parents feel that it was more than just him, and that the other culprits are going to go free. This shows that it’s not just children doing this – there are adults who are actively trying to ruin children’s lives. I cite a case that I read in the past, where a husband – who was described as “one of the sweetest people she had ever met” – was discovered by said wife as being a member of the website Reddit.com. On that website, he was discovered to have been telling women about how much he wanted to rape them, or kill them. Writing some of the most awful, vile things. When confronted, he became defensive, and claimed that he did this kind of stuff to “relax and unwind.” Needless to say, she was not having it.
Anti bullying day
Thankfully, there are ways people can go about to try and at least reduce the rate by which bullying occurs. Anti bullying day is an event wherein people try to increase awareness, discourage victim blaming, and help people understand the very real harm that victims of bullying experience. The day started, thanks to work by the Boys and Girls Club in 2009 to make pink shirts that read messages such as “Bullying Stops Here.” and “Pink Shirt Day.” They called the event Anti-Bullying Day, and in 2012, the United Nations made May 4 the official Anti-Bullying Day.
A big way to help stop bullying among children is to teach people acceptance and tolerance. When kids are taught that to respect people of all races, of all genders, of all identities, of all sexualities, it helps them become more well-adjusted, and helps people lead happier, healthier lives – in and out of school.
If you or someone you know is or has been the victim of bullying or other forms of abuse, please contact one of these groups: