Saseenos Elementary School principal Gord Johnson works to create a culture of kindness at Saseenos Elementary School. (Tim Collins - Black Press Media)

Saseenos Elementary School principal Gord Johnson works to create a culture of kindness at Saseenos Elementary School. (Tim Collins - Black Press Media)

Two messages during Pink Shirt Day

Anti-bullying is not just something that happens on a single day

When Pink Shirt Day arrives on Feb. 26, Saseenos Elementary School principal Gord Johnson anticipates the school will be a sea of pink.

“Absolutely. The students here really get behind the message of Pink Shirt Day and we’ll see them wearing pink and showing their support for the concepts that are at the root of the day,” Johnson said.

But what that message is has shifted over the years.

It all started in 2007 when a student in Nova Scotia was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. Other students saw the bullying and responded by wearing pink shirts themselves. By the end of the week most of the students were wearing pink, and the bullies got the message that their behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated.

But the day and the message of standing up to bullies represents only part of the school’s approach to create a safe environment at Saseenos, Johnson said.

“It’s certainly an emotionally charged day (and story) but for us there are two messages that we take from the whole thing,” Johnson said.

“We emphasize kindness – the Golden Rule – but also acknowledge that, if that fails, then everyone will stand together to support the principles that we believe in.”

Those principles are based on teaching the children that it’s important to consider what kind of person they want to be, even when no one is watching.

“We have regular assemblies all year long where we talk about values and emphasize the value of kindness, respect, and honesty. We don’t leave it to one special day a year to get that message across.”

As one might expect, no amount of values discussions will ever eliminate bullying entirely and when it happens, Johnson comes at the situation by trying to understand what is happening in the bully’s life. (Johnson does not like using the term bully, and prefers to deal with each student without slotting them into a category.)

“It may be that there’s something missing in that little person’s life and we work hard to help them acknowledge their behaviour and take the opportunity to change their approach. Reconciliation is also a big part, and that’s not just saying ‘sorry’. It means that you find ways of making up for the negative thing that you’ve done.”

At times, Johnson has found that it’s necessary to make a call to the parents of a child who has bullied a fellow student to try to work with the parents to resolve the situation.

“That doesn’t always work, of course. I’ve seen situations where it’s the parents who have told their child that they have permission to punch someone in the nose. That’s obviously not acceptable,” Johnson said.

“In those cases, you just have to work harder with the child.”

For Johnson, Pink Shirt Day is a celebration of the belief that a culture of kindness, coupled with a message that everyone will stand up to bad behaviour, can serve to reduce bullying behaviour.

“We have a chance to get that message across to these children and, hopefully, it’s a message they carry with them for their whole lives.”



tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

sooke school district

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

.
LETTER: Anti-semitism definition lacking

Re: We must identify anti-Semitism and combat it (Online, Feb. 26) I… Continue reading

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read