On Friday May 20, thousands of New Zealanders celebrated Pink Shirt Day – a nationwide awareness programme to stop bullying.

Photo: Albert from ‘Eat Lit Food’ speaks out against bullying (supplied)

Pink Shirt Day wants you to unite against bullying.

Tens of thousands of New Zealanders will wear their pink shirts with pride on May 21, 2021, spreading aroha and kindness and encouraging others to speak up and stand together to stop bullying.

More than 30,000 official Pink Shirt Day 2021 T-Shirts, which are being sold by Cotton On, have already been purchased by New Zealanders.

As the promotion says, “People from schools, workplaces, communities and whanau will stand together to Korero Mai, Korero Atu, Mauri Tu, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”

Great Opportunity

Mental Health Foundation (MHF) Chief Executive Shaun Robinson said that Pink Shirt Day is a great opportunity for all New Zealanders to take a stand against some of the bullying behaviour that they witness at work, in schools or out in the community.

He said that the definition of bullying is that it is deliberate, involves misuse of power in a relationship, usually repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time, and involves behaviour that can cause harm.

“If you witness this type of behaviour, we encourage you to support the person being bullied, or if it is safe to do so, remove them from the situation altogether. Too often, this behaviour is not stopped, but it is time we stepped up and called time on it,” Mr Robinson said.

He said that bullying can impact people’s mental wellbeing, leading to an increase in depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Homophobia and Transphobia

“Diversity in Aotearoa needs to be celebrated. Unfortunately, homophobic and transphobic bullying directed at LGBTQIA+ communities is all too prevalent. Young people are telling us that this kind of bullying is really common. We need to speak up, show that it’s unacceptable behaviour, and stamp out this sort of bullying,” Mr Robinson said.

The money raised through previous Pink Shirt Day campaigns has funded InsideOUT to run rainbow workshops and programmes for a number of years to help create more inclusive schools. MHF is very proud of that, Mr Robinson said.

Promoting bully-free workplace

Workplace bullying is also prevalent in Aotearoa, with 1 in 10 workers admitting to being bullied on the job. The latest Pink Shirt Day workplace bullying prevention resource provides information on how to build and sustain a bully-free workplace.

“The research tells us that workplaces that prevent bullying have strong and well-communicated policies, their leadership team show a commitment to preventing bullying and will intervene if it occurs, they have positive communication and they see diversity in the workplace as a matter of pride. Our workplace bullying prevention resource covers this and is designed to help New Zealand organisations walk the talk,” Mr Robinson said.

When these actions happen, a workplace will flourish and bullying will reduce.

“Wearing a Pink Shirt Day T-Shirt sends a powerful message to your peers, colleagues and whanau, and it is a way of showing people who are being bullied, or have experienced it before, that they are not alone,” he said.

Mr Robinson said that 100% of net proceeds raised will go back into the Pink Shirt Day campaign to enable it to continue to create positive change, raise awareness about bullying prevention and provide resources that promote inclusive communities.