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Silent witnesses just as culpable in bullying

While bullies will get attention tomorrow (Feb. 26) as part of Pink Shirt Day, there are people just as culpable who aren’t held to account, according to a Nanaimo school administrator.

Like other schools, Ecole Quarterway Elementary School will have students wearing pink shirts, an anti-bullying-themed assembly and various songs and presentations, but vice-principal Karina Younk said the focus will also be on the silent witnesses.

“There are statistics that say that within 10 seconds, the bystander can stop the bullying in most situations. So the kids are showing skits about how they can do that either [with] cyberbullying or taunting on the playground and just being able to remove the victim from the bully and taking away the power,” Younk said.

Students don’t have to watch silently as someone is victimized by bullying - they can speak out, step in and do something, she said. Bullying can’t be eliminated but much can be done to severely curb it.

“What we really try and focus on is bullying will always exist. It’s really about recognizing it and stepping in,” Younk said. “We’d like to erase bullying – but we may not get there – but if everybody stepped in when they saw it happening, it wouldn’t be effective.”

Bullying is not tolerated in any school in the Nanaimo area and the district is constantly educating students, said spokeswoman Donna Reimer.

“Our schools are committed to anti-bullying initiatives and sponsor a wide variety of events and learning opportunities throughout the year to reinforce this very important message with students,” Reimer said.

Pink Shirt Day has its origins in Nova Scotia in 2007, when two students purchased pink shirts and distributed them to students after learning that another student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school.

For more information on anti-bullying initiatives and fundraising activities, please visit the official website at www.pinkshirtday.ca.

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