Wednesday, February 27 is Anti-bullying (or Pink Shirt) Day. We have had some questions from parents on what we will be doing for the day. Although there will be pink shirts worn, topics discussed, and strategies taught… the more important thing is what we do every day at Kent School. We take both building a positive school culture as well as dealing with bullying very seriously at Kent School and continue to work to improve in these areas.
Please take a moment to read Mr. Wejr’s latest blog post (with words from former principal Roxanne Watson) on promoting a culture of kindness and care at Kent School.
As “anti-bullying day” approaches again this year, I get questions as to what we will be doing as a school for this one day event. My response has been,
“As a school, we will continue to do what we do every other day: promote a culture of care, empathy and kindness through teaching and modeling. We will continue to try to nurture the strengths and interests in our students and help them to be more confident and proud of who they are. We will also deal with bullying and conflict (2 very different things but often confused) in a serious but teaching/learning manner so the lacking skills are taught and the focus stays long-term.”
Bullying is something that nobody should have to go through and when it occurs, we need to take this very seriously and deal with it very carefully. We also need to be proactive in what we do – we need to create the culture in which people are cared for and care for others. Now, I am not opposed to the intent of Anti-Bullying Day, as I am often blown away by the efforts of students and I believe we need to stand up to bullying, but I do think the focus is on the wrong thing: bullying. Whenever we focus on something, it grows. If we seek negatives in our life, we will find them. If we seek positives, we will find them too. Maybe we need to shift and focus on the positive qualities we want to see.
It is easy to put on a pink shirt and say that we are fighting bullying on that day… it is much more difficult to model, teach and create a culture in which kindness, care, and empathy is the norm. We probably would find it difficult to find someone who is NOT “anti-bullying” (or pro-bullying?) but maybe not have a difficult time to find students and adults who struggle to lead a life of care.
I see many examples of students standing up for qualities like care, acceptance, and empathy and then adults naming it “anti-bullying”. Check out this “acceptance” flash mob at a Vancouver Giants game in which the students use positive qualities (then titled “anti-bullying)”.
My former principal and mentor Roxanne Watson models this change and wrote a recent post that that challenges us to shift our focus:
… It is a complex issue. Each time I hear of another life lost to bullying I ask myself why we as a community have not been able to address this problem effectively.
Bullying. Bully-Prevention. Anti-Bullying. Stand Up 2 Bullying. Stop a Bully. Pink Shirt Day. There’s no shortage of attention to bullying these days, nor should there be. As a former child, an educator and part of a large family I have experienced first-hand the effects of bullying. I certainly read the paper and follow the news and there is no lack of stories which document the terrible impact bullying has, not only in our schools but in our workplaces, in our own families, neighborhoods, churches, teams, clubs and any other place where people come together. Each time a bullying story hits the news we hear a renewed sense of outrage and are inundated with anti-bullying campaigns. It seems to me, considering how often we hear of bullying and how many of us have experienced it in our own lives that these campaigns have not been effective over the years. So, I have a suggestion; Stop focusing on bullying and start focusing on kindness……