Berwick, Nova Scotia is a small town in Atlantic Canada where, in 2007, a ninth grade boy wore a pink shirt to high school and was bullied by his classmates. Born from this event was Pink Shirt Day, and the United Nations declared every May 4 to be Anti-Bullying Day.
Although Pink Shirt Day is celebrated on February 28 in many countries, including the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia, the U.N. declared Anti Bullying Day to be an international day of respect on May 4 every year.
Shauna Moore is First Generation Student Coordinator at the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Transitions at Durham College. She says although bullying is prominent in elementary and high school, bullying can still happen in post-secondary in subtle ways.
“Bullying in post-secondary isn’t something that’s necessarily obvious, like violence is,” she says. “It can happen in subtle ways and we may not even recognize it as bullying, and victims may not often talk about it or recognize it themselves. I also believe there are times when a bully doesn’t recognize themselves as a bully.”
Moore says social media and the advancement of technology have greatly contributed to the development of bullying in post-secondary environments. With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram being some of the biggest platforms where bullying is prevalent, she says students need to be mindful of what they post online.
According to the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Government of Canada, 40 per cent of Canadian workers above the age of 18 have reported experiencing bullying in a professional workplace.
Furthermore, seven per cent of people above the age of 18 have experienced cyber bullying, with girls reported to be more likely to experience cyber bullying over boys.
Moore says eliminating bullying on campuses is all about reaching out and finding the courage to talk to people who can help.
“Sometimes it’s all about just having a conversation. At our office, we sometimes refer students to a higher level of professional help if need be,” she says. “We talk a lot about respect, and we’re working on a campaign for next year at Durham College to talk more openly about college bullying. When people are aware of what it means to be respectful, even just that simple awareness can help reduce bullying.”
Durham College offers many different resources to help combat college bullying, including Outreach Services, the Office of Diversity, the Access and Support Centre, Campus Conflict Resolution, Campus Recreation Mental Health Services, and Good2Talk’s free hotline for post-secondary students.