Raglan Area School will show its support for Pink Shirt Day next week when an eight-strong group of senior students launch an original anti-bullying song at morning assembly on the Wednesday – and the school’s 450-odd students unite by dressing in pink on the Friday.
It’s to promote an awareness of bullying and to show such behaviour is “not okay” in our community, says school social worker Hineoma Paekau-Rush. She’s worked for three years now with both Raglan Area and Te Uku School students – who will also wear pink come Friday week – in the common goal towards zero bullying.
“We’re trying to be the first bully-free schools in New Zealand,” explains Hineoma, who believes our schools are the hub of the community and what’s talked about there will filter through to homes.
“If there’s one place that can do it, Raglan can,” she adds of the bully-free ideal.
The area school’s anti-bullying song or waiata being performed next week ahead of Pink Shirt Day came out of an initiative last year, explains deputy principal Bronwyn Haitana, when Cornerstone Roots frontman Brian Ruawai worked with students to help put their original composition together.
The message is also the focus of the school’s mid-week assemblies which stress respecting one another’s differences and resisting bullying, she told the Chronicle. It involves talking about and understanding the many forms of bullying, and encouraging students to speak up and be “active bystanders” when necessary.
“Students know what respectful relationships look like,” Bronwyn insists. “They just need the confidence to be who they are … and to care about each other.”
The respectful relationships theme is also included in a colouring-in competition for the junior school area, with three $50 Warehouse vouchers to be won.
This is the third successive year the school has been involved in Pink Shirt Day, which has become an annual event in many countries including New Zealand since 2009. It encourages people to speak up, stand together and stop bullying.
The movement began in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1977 when a group of students defended a kid who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. His peers took a stand by also wearing pink shirts, and handed them out to their classmates to show solidarity.
Wearing a pink shirt is now a way of showing those being bullied that there are people around who care.