Anti-bullying attitude important every day – NZ education expert

Anti-bullying expert Dr Cara Swit is delighted to see University of Canterbury (UC) students supporting the annual Pink Shirt Day tomorrow, but would like people to feel empowered to confront bullying every day.

“Days like Pink Shirt Day put bullying in the spotlight. The day brings awareness to the issue of bullying and an opportunity to advocate for stamping out bullying. Targets of bullying often have their voice quietened or don’t have the opportunity to speak out about their experiences, so Pink Shirt Day is an opportunity for all of us to yell from the rooftops that bullying is NOT OK.”

The event reminds people of the behaviour that is required all year round, Dr Swit says.

“Acknowledging the importance of bullying and its impacts on society can’t be achieved in one day a year – bullying prevention is important every day. But Pink Shirt Day is an opportunity to bring people together, to start important conversations and connections and promote up-stander behaviour that communicates a unified message that bullying is not OK,” she says.

“Pink Shirt Day is also fabulous and necessary because it brings people together and encourages kindness. Inclusion, acceptance and kindness must out-power exclusion and bullying behaviours if we want to see change in our society.”

The nationwide event led by the Mental Health Foundation, on 16 October, encourages all New Zealanders to help create schools, workplaces, communities and whānau where everyone feels safe, valued and respected.

“I am excited about all the events that the UCSA [University of Canterbury Students’ Association] have organised this year. Students really are our future and are leading the way for change,” Dr Swit says.

UC’s rainbow community will celebrate diversity together with an afternoon tea in the university’s Community Hub, in the Rehua building on Pink Shirt Day – all rainbow staff, students and allies are welcome.

Pink Shirt Day coincides with the UCSA’s Coffee Party this year, so organisers are encouraging staff/students to wear pink with the Exec Team leading by example and giving away some pink sweet treats, at Haere-roa.