Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, age, sex, or disability. It can involve a variety of tactics, such as bullying.
Today, February 23, 2022, is Pink Shirt Day. Originating in Canada, it is recognized annually on the last Wednesday of February.
Here is part of an article that appeared in the Globe and Mail newspaper that describes its beginnings:
David Shepherd, Travis Price and their teenage friends organized a high-school protest to wear pink in sympathy with a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied [for wearing a pink shirt]…[They] took a stand against bullying when they protested against the harassment of a new Grade 9 student by distributing pink T-shirts to all the boys in their school. ‘I learned that two people can come up with an idea, run with it, and it can do wonders,’ says Mr. Price, 17, who organized the pink protest. ‘Finally, someone stood up for a weaker kid.’ So Mr. Shepherd and some others headed off to a discount store and bought 50 pink tank tops. They sent out messages to schoolmates that night, and the next morning they hauled the shirts to school in a plastic bag. As they stood in the foyer handing out the shirts, the bullied boy walked in. His face spoke volumes. ‘It looked like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders,’ Mr. Price recalled. The bullies were never heard from again.
The Pink Shirt Day website says this: Over 75% of people say they’ve been bullied. Over 90% of bullying incidents have peer witnesses. But when those peers intervene, most incidents are over within 10 seconds. Bullying could be happening to someone you know and care about – join us in taking a stand against bullying, and letting your peers know that it is not okay. Show kindness, empathy, and compassion, and speak out!
There are also other days dedicated to anti-bullying.
- International Day of Pink is the second Wednesday of April each year where people are asked to stand in solidarity with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
- The United Nations declares May 4 every year as Anti-Bullying Day.
- In Ontario (Canada) the third Sunday of November is Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in schools. I wrote about that and our experience with bullying in Breaking Bad Bullying Behaviour.
There are many campaigns throughout the years at different times.
In 2017 Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital launched an anti-sigma campaign called Dear Everybody. That became the basis for Day 88 of 99 Days to FASDay: Dear Everybody.
Despite all the awareness and attention, we still see stigma and bullying. In fact, most recently, Saturday Night Live broadcast an incredibly insulting skit disguised as humour, but was a mask for bullying and stigma. If you missed it you can find details in this post: SNL skit Winter Formal: Humour or ableist?.
We have a long way to go as a Society, and although every day we need to promote kindness, inclusion and diversity, each of these days is an opportunity to join with others to get the messages out in a coordinated effort.
We have a variety of items in our Redbubble Shop that you can use to raise awareness, including a new design for kindness. We are limited in the colours, so we can’t promote it for Pink Shirt Day, but it is red with pink in it! Check it out:
We do know that individuals with FASD are vulnerable to bullying. There are many reasons, from lack of understanding about how the disability manifests, dysmaturity, understanding of social skills and a desire to fit in are just a few. The best way to help your child is to ensure your child feels safe to come to you to talk about any concerns they are having. That way you can help problem solve or intervene when necessary.
While not specific to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, you can get more info and tips about bullying and disabilities by visiting the resources section of the Pink Shirt Day website or Stop Bullying webpage Bullying and Youth with Disabilities and Special Health Needs.
There is a great resouce section on the Healthy Relationships Hub Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence website. It has tip sheets for kids, parents and teachers. PREVNet is a Canadian research and knowledge mobilization hub that brings together researchers and national organizations to build research capacity, assess youth relationship problems including bullying and dating violence, and promote evidence-based programs and effective policies across Canada to address and reduce youth interpersonal violence and promote healthy relationships.