Here in Canada, we have a decade-long annual tradition of wearing pink shirts as a sign of solidarity against bullying. The tradition was started by two teenagers in Nova Scotia named Travis Price and David Sheppard, who heard that a younger student was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.
Bullying isn’t just an issue in Canada (a nation mistakingly known as an overly-polite and apologetic country.) Young people around the world face issues with overly-aggressive bullies attacking their self-esteem. There are numerous reports of young people harming themselves when they don’t know how to cope with the endless bombardment from bullies. Teachers and parents don’t always know how to deal with the situation, offering ‘quick fixes’ like forcing the two participants (bully and the bullied) to just ‘hug it out’.
Spoiler alert: the issue of bullying isn’t exclusive to young people, and it’s not exclusive to schools, either. Bullying is a major problem at home, in the office, and across the internet (hence why we built Community Sift.) Teaching young people how to become more resilient is only becoming more important.
Today, our team at Two Hat Security hosted a bake sale to raise funds to support anti-bullying initiatives across Canada. We raised over $400 at our little sale, and our team is chipping in to bring the total to a nice big $1,000.
All the proceeds will be donated to the CKNW Orphans’ Fund, who disperse the funds to different child and youth programs. We’re excited about this, as these programs support healthy self-esteem for children and their peers. They teach empathy, compassion, and kindness – three things all close to any loving parent’s heart.
Check out the interview courtesy of the Capital News:
The theme of this year’s Pink Shirt Day is the “Pink Shirt Promise”, encouraging others to share kindness with others. We used up some precious whiteboard space to encourage each other in the office:
And our UX aficionado Jesse even whipped up this fun Pink Shirt Day virtual t-shirt maker to help spread the word. Fun!
Here’s to another successful Pink Shirt Day. In the meantime, we’re going to get back to work, since we spend all year working to end bullying online! There’s still so much to do, after all. Perhaps we need to consider wearing pink shirts as a new team uniform every day… ?
Bullying is a huge issue for kids around the world. All around the globe, you’ll read stories like this one or this one or this one, all of which are stories of children or teens who have been bullied to the point of feeling so helpless they’ve committed suicide. When we say “huge issue”, it’s not an understatement.
Pink Shirt Day is an annual event in Canada, inspired by a group of kids who were sticking up for a friend who was being harassed because of their pink shirt. Over time, pink shirts became a cross-Canada symbol for a movement, with charities, businesses, and news media outlets showing their support for initiatives that take a stand against bullying every February. We hope this movement can spread further, into other countries around the world.
Bullying is an issue that’s close to our hearts at Community Sift. Every member of the team has been bullied at some point in their lives, as a child, a teen, or even as an adult. Now we are working together as a team to create software to sift out bullies and encourage positive online behavior instead.
Today we hosted a little experiment, by surprising a few businesses with some “drive-by positivity”. We all put on our pink shirts and grabbed stacks of pink Post-It notes to blitz each office with kind and positive messages, ‘flash mob’ style. It would have been easier to just buy some pink shirts and sit in the office working away, but we wanted to encourage others to join in the cause. We also wanted to see if we could make kindness spread like a positive virus. As it turns out, we could!
While we faced a few hiccups (one conference call and one team in the middle of a hotfix), most of the businesses were kind enough to let us invade their space with positivity. We kept it short and sweet, leaving as many pink Post-It notes with positive messages as we could at each office.
Several of the offices were also taking part in Pink Shirt Day, and they stopped to take photos with us. One local business (Hyper Hippo Games) even handed out prizes to the team members with the best Pink Shirt Day outfits.
We were greeted by honking horns and big smiles from most of the people we walked past on the street, as we were making a scene with our pink balloons, shirts, and happy Post-It notes.
After our little parade was over, we continued receiving posts and messages and photos from all the various people we interacted with throughout the afternoon. Then a funny thing happened – the team kept the positivity going, even without any sort of prompt! We started up a #kudos channel in our internal Slack, with people saying positive and kind things about each other, thanking others for being awesome. Our little Pink Shirt Day parade was a team event that wouldn’t have been as good without everyone’s participation.
We love the dreams of social apps like Brighten, who are on a mission to spread positive messages, or Facebook’s new “Reactions” button, which gives more expressivity to an otherwise somewhat lifeless “like” button. Rewarding users for spreading kindness is a great way to move away from bullying behavior towards more positive ones. To quote Lady Gaga, “Tolerance and acceptance and love is something that feeds every community.”
Happy Pink Shirt Day to all of our friends around the world. We’re happy to be helping so many great businesses to sift out bullies from their online communities.
As our team member Mila would say, “Let’s start with smile!”
Originally published on Medium