Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying

Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying
  • Written by
  • Harri Sharman

Mental health has become a hot topic lately, as more people focus on improving their general wellbeing. One cause of poor mental health however, is still often overlooked: the impact of bullying, from the schoolyard to the workplace. In January 2021, a Ministry of Education survey found that New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bullying in the world, with over a third of students reporting they were bullied every month. Those who are disabled, LGBTQIA+ or gender non- binary, or from a disadvantaged background, often suffer the most.

As Mental Health Foundation (MHF) Chief Executive Shaun Robinson says, “Diversity in Aotearoa needs to be celebrated. Unfortunately, homophobic and transphobic bullying directed at LGBTQIA+ communities is all too prevalent. We need to speak up, show that it’s unacceptable behaviour, and stamp out all forms of bullying.”

These high levels of bullying don’t stop when our rangatahi leave school. According to WorkSafe, as many as one in three workers in NZ might be bullied or harassed every year. So, what can we do to create communities that promote kindness, respect, and inclusivity?

A bright idea to stop bullying

Sometimes all it takes is one person brave enough to start a change. That’s how Pink Shirt Day started: two students in Canada in 2007 took a stand after a peer was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. The movement they inspired has since gone global. In New Zealand, Pink Shirt Day is run annually by the MHF. They help equip schools and workplaces with the resources they need to create a fair, positive culture where bullying is not tolerated.

“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora”

The Pink Shirt Day NZ slogan translates to speak up, stand together, and stop bullying. Bullying is isolating. It can be physical, verbal, social, or happen entirely online – and it’s important to learn to speak up for yourself and for others going through it. The purpose of Pink Shirt Day is to open dialogue, show solidarity, and make clear there is no place for bullying in Aotearoa.

That means having conversations with your friends, whānau, children, teachers, students, and wider communities.

How to get involved

1. Visit www.pinkshirtday.org.nz to register. Registering means you’ll be the first to hear when resources and event packs are available to order. These will help your school or workplace create positive, inclusive spaces for everyone.

2. Mark Friday, 20th May 2022 in your diary and get your pink shirt ready! Official t-shirts will be available through their retail partner Cotton On, and 100% of net proceeds from sales of the shirt go directly to funding Pink Shirt Day’s activities.

3. Fundraising for Pink Shirt Day NZ will help their mission to stamp out bullying in workplaces, schools, and communities across New Zealand.

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