Is "Pink Shirt Day" meaningless?

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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An article I came across in the local paper from the town where I lived before in Canada:


Christian Higgs Torres (right) and Patrick Higgs Torres (left) were shocked when their bully turned up at school wearing a pink T-shirt on Pink Shirt Day in 2013. Their mother, Eréndira Torres Piña, says Pink Shirt Day is meaningless. Photo: Megan Devlin/Richmond News

A Richmond family is speaking out after they say their sons’ tormenter showed up to their elementary school wearing a pink shirt on Pink Shirt Day.

Christian Higgs Torres, now 13, and Patrick Higgs Torres, now 12, were both being picked on three years ago by a boy in Grade 6 while they were in Grade 4 and Grade 3 at a Richmond elementary school, their mother Erendira Torres Piña told the Richmond News.

They allege the older boy bullied the brothers verbally and physically, and once in the schoolyard took a tree branch that Christian was playing with and hit him with it. In another incident, they allege the older boy told Christian he would poke Christian’s eyes out with his glasses.

“We had so many nights without sleeping,” Torres Piña said. “The environment was very hostile.”

Then, when Pink Shirt Day rolled around, the family was shocked by the bully’s choice of attire at the school’s annual anti-bullying assembly.

“He showed up to school wearing a pink shirt that day,” Torres Piña said.

Christian, the boy’s primary target, was struck by the irony.

“I was pretty mad about it,” Christian said. “He’s not protesting against bullying—he is a bully.”

Torres Piña and her husband, Ian Higgs, met with Christian’s teacher and principal multiple times that year to address the bullying issues, they said. But they weren’t convinced the school was doing enough to resolve the issue, and told the News they felt the bully student was not facing repercussions for his alleged actions.

Dissatisfied with the school’s response, Torres Piña approached the Richmond School District superintendent at the time and started an online petition asking then-premier Christy Clark to abolish Pink Shirt Day.

“I think the pink shirt campaign becomes meaningless when people are not accountable for their actions,” she said.

“Awareness cannot only be one day like Earth Day or pyjama day. It’s just not meaningful. It has to be reinforced every day, to be kind.”

David Sadler, spokesperson for the Richmond School District, couldn’t speak to specifics of the family’s case, but said the district has dedicated staff on an area counselling team whose job it is to address bullying.

They provide lessons to teachers on peaceful problem solving and what students should do if they’re receiving unwanted attention. The goal is to build social skills and resiliency in students, and develop school-wide expectations for behaviour.

Sadler said they can also implement Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) in schools. According to its website, PBIS is “a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve.”


Now Christian is homeschooled and Patrick goes to a different school for French immersion. Both boys are doing well. Photo: Megan Devlin/Richmond News

Plus, he added teachers have access to even provincial resources through the Expect Respect and a Safe Education (ERASE) website.

After the bullying issue in Grade 4, Christian’s family decided to homeschool him beginning in Grade 5. Torres Piña said his anxiety is much better, and he’s more confident.

Christian has some advice for other kids who may be being bullied:

“Don’t worry, there’s always the light,” he said. “If the darkness keeps coming, look for the light.”
Richmond mom wants end to Pink Shirt Day

I feel for those parents... And the kid himself, of course.

In truth, not sure about America, but, having experienced schools in both Russia and Canada, neither system, in own ways, address this issue at all IMHO

In high school over here, I had a guy who was trying to pick on me or whatever. He and his group were trying to drive me and my friends off the outdoor basketball court we'd been using every lunch break.

I actually went through the proper channels, initially, reported it all to Ms. Gill, a counsellor at our school who was kind of in charge of me, at the time, of helping settle me in and stuff (I was still recently arrived and new then). Told her straight up, too, if he tries to come at me again, I will hit back. I did not grow up here, where I come from, boys are not taught to just take that shit. And she tried to talk me out of it, that, as I recall, she said, "if you hit him, you become the bad guy." Well, of course, I ended up doing exactly that lol

That fool ended up with a split lip and bloody nose, and both of us ended up suspended for two days. It totally was worth it, as far as I am concerned, because he stayed the hell away from me after that...

That's the problem. I reported it. The counsellor even passed it on to Mr. Leslie, our vice principal in charge of discipline. And nothing was done, and a week later, he tried to start crap with me again, on the court, and that was when shit finally hit the fan hehe

The issue was, they had no real proof he was instigating anything with me, other than my own say so. And, logically, I get why they could not do anything with that. How can the vice principal suspend, let alone expel, a kid based on nothing more than the word of another kid? There'd be complete chaos in the school system...

But, by dragging it out as they did, they, in my opinion, contributed to its eventual physical resolution. And it could have got worse too, because that one did threaten retaliation against me and it very nearly came to an inter-ethnic immigrant brawl out there on the court: he called up his Indian friends and I called a bunch of the fellow ex-Soviet Union kids at the school for help too :D Fortunately, we both saw sense in time and walked away from it...

Back in Russia, its similar, they also don't really do anything, the school administrators, though, for kind of different reasons, I think. Over there, there is just a belief that especially boys should resolve such issues themselves among themselves (basically the way I ended up doing it in this case hehe).

That it toughens them up, builds character and such...

Basically, it's a fucking mess everywhere...
 

Ian Jeffrey

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Mar 2013
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I had to look up "Pink Shirt Day."

Basically, anti-bullying campaigns do not work well. Parents need to teach their kids not to behave that way, and punish them when they do. The alternative is that the bully may eventually get hit back, injured, and maybe even killed. And in the last 25 years or so, bullied kids have been known to shoot people.
 
Jul 2014
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Most "Days" are meaningless.

Every day is some "Day".

if some people feel better about having a day for this or that, no harm, no foul.

Tomorrow might be national potato day.

Or something else equally important...who cares?
 
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Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
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Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
If it was my kid, I would teach him to catch the bully at a vulnerable moment (albeit in front of other people), and beat him senseless until forced to stop. He would never have to do it again.
 

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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Toronto
It can get quite extreme...

I was just reading a case in Russia, in the Far East, Primorye region, small town called Bolshoi Kamen (Big Stone). Grade 5 boy out of control. He lives with grandma. Dad left mom before he was born, never in the picture to begin with. Mom herself a delinquent and is, in fact, in prison, at the moment. Sadly not an uncommon story over there...

Boy terrorized his school, bullied, beat up, robbed other kids at will. Grandmother could do nothing with him, she could not handle him by herself. And, despite many appeals from concerned parents of other students, the school administration did not address the issue either.

Well, days ago, he beat a girl at the school so bad, he apparently ruptured her spleen. She is still in hospital.

Later, her parents and other parents of pupils at the school caught this boy outside and beat the hell out of him

and then the girl's dad apparently dragged him into a bathroom and repeatedly forced his face into a toilet...

Police now investigating both sides: Родители окунули пятиклассника головой в унитаз за своих избитых детей

:(
 
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Aug 2018
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If that was my kid I would have sent him to one of these instead...
Both my boys are in school in BC, like this lady's and The Man. I feel like they're on top of the issue but like TM said it's usually he said he said.

Both my boys also take Butokukan. Cause it builds dignity and discipline and bullies don't pick hard targets.

I think pulling your kids out of school is the worst solution to a bully. She's teaching them not to face the bully AND not to face the school admin. Full turtle.

Fuck that. The mouthbreather should be isolated. The school should be called out. Not the kids.
 

Rev. Hellh0und

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Jul 2011
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So here we have "blue shirts for bullying" in october. What we have done is sent our kids in white shirts that have a "blue belt" like a jiu jitsu belt around the waste with lettering that reads "blue belts, not blue shirts".


These campaigns create more victims, and teach our kids not to problem solve, but to look to an authority for an answer. they don't work. Forging the body and mind as well as self confidence and esteem does.
 
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Dec 2018
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If that was my kid I would have sent him to one of these instead...

Old school. I totally get it. And I ended my bullying with 1 fight and 1 threat and the last guy? I never fought him. But I did outgrow him. And ended up living a much more successful life too.

But it doesn’t always work out well for the good guy who fights back. And getting violence in the school? That is a very scary thing. Local tough school here has done really well and cut down from a fight a day to one a week. Strict enforcement and punishing the instigators. They press charges too if the victim doesn’t. This is a middle school.

I remember during my brief stent as a teacher I had been having issues with a kid being a bully. I couldn’t nail him to the wall because he was sneaky. Well he finally picked the wrong target and this kid swung back at him. I broke up the fight and the little shit tried to hit ME. He was a little guy (18 year old in 11th grade). I wrenched his arm and basically humiliated him in front of everyone by taking complete control of him and scruffing him and marching his ass to the dean. I have no doubt that if I did it now? I’d likely get in trouble.
 
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