Standing up to bullying ‘about being brave’

Dunedin schools’ approach to bullying must change with the times, a school principal says.

Green Island School principal Aaron Warrington spoke to the Otago Daily Times yesterday on Pink Shirt Day, an annual event against bullying, held in Canada and New Zealand.

Participants wear pink shirts and attend or host informative events to raise awareness about bullying, particularly in schools.

"We’re strong believers at our school in teaching our pupils to stand up and not be bystanders when they see bullying.

"It’s about being brave."

The advent of social media and other mass communication meant that bullying could occur "24/7", Mr Warrington said.

"It doesn’t just happen in the flesh, it happens online.

"Unfortunately, algorithms and social media magnify the worst aspects of human beings.

"It’s about creating spaces where people feel safe and looked after."

Green Island School principal Aaron Warrington supports the anti-bullying message of Pink Shirt...
Green Island School principal Aaron Warrington supports the anti-bullying message of Pink Shirt Day. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
During the past week, the younger pupils at the school had been learning about forming healthy relationships, while the older pupils had been learning about citizenship and online behaviour.

"It’s about recognising trolls, and knowing how to speak about them so they don’t target others.

"Jumping on board initiatives such as Pink Shirt Day is important because of the role that schools play in the community.

"We have to combat that ‘snitches get stitches’ attitude that unfortunately pervades in so many parts of our society."

Musselburgh School principal Rob Taylor said he was also pleased to support Pink Shirt Day.

"Bullying is always an issue in schools ... We teach our pupils strategies to know what to do if they see people being bullied, and work out if their behaviour could be seen as bullying.

"It’s about recognising the signs."

The pupils also made a collection for the local foodbank, as part of Pink Shirt Day, Mr Taylor said.