Pink Shirt Day – Not Just For Kids

Cover of "Don't Laugh at Me"

Cover of Don’t Laugh at Me

Today was Pink Shirt Day in Canada. This anti-bullying awareness day began in 2007 after a grade nine student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.

Before I had my children I taught elementary school. One year I taught a multi-leveled grade one/two class. It was a wonderful year, with students ranging in age from six to eight. We talked a lot about being kind, helping each other and standing up for each other.

Another teacher introduced me to a children’s book called Don’t Laugh At Me, written by Allen Shamblin and Steve Seskin. It was also recorded by country singer Mark Wills. You can see the video here.  Here are some of the lyrics:

I’m a little boy with glasses
The one they call the geek
A little girl who never smiles
‘Cause I’ve got braces on my teeth
And I know how it feels
To cry myself to sleep

I’m that kid on every playground
Who’s always chosen last
A single teenage mother
Tryin’ to overcome my past
You don’t have to be my friend
But is it too much to ask

Don’t laugh at me
Don’t call me names
Don’t get your pleasure from my pain
In God’s eyes we’re all the same
Someday we’ll all have perfect wings
Don’t laugh at me

When the kids and I read the book, listened to the song and eventually sang the song during a school assembly I was struck by how seriously the children took the anti-bullying message.

As adults, we think we’re pretty smart. We may be educated, well-travelled and have tons of life experience. But you know what? Those six and seven-year-old children had a far deeper grasp of basic kindness than many, many “grown-ups” do. As a kid, I just assumed that some day everyone would grow up. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen.

I’ve been talking to a lot of friends lately about how mean and judgemental women are to each other and I’m sick of it. How can we teach our children to be accepting and kind but then turn around and rip another person to shreds?

I hope that every parent who sent their children off to school in pink shirts thought about why they were really doing it.

We need to stop and think about the way we treat others…not just the people we love but the people who are hard to love, the ones we are tempted to laugh at.

Our children already have this figured out.

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7 responses

  1. Lovely post Murphy. I haven’t heard of Pink shirt day, but is sounds like a great message. I totally agree about women being too judgemental of each other. It has to stop.

  2. that is such a cool idea, i’ve recently done a post about bullying too, it really sucks! x

  3. I was thinking about the same things at my girls’ assembly yesterday. I have the audacity to believe that people are basically evil and need to be trained in the ways of living out kindness and mercy. I did also think however, that our generation as kids were not taught this way and that maybe, just maybe, when these little ones come to our age, the majority will have healthy and equitable relationships free of fear. 🙂

    1. That’s interesting, Donelle, about our generation not being properly taught to show kindness and mercy. Do you think it’s because our teachers and parents were too busy telling us how wonderful we were in the eighties? Hmm…

  4. You are a beautiful person, Anna. No wonder I immediately liked you! I loved this post, and the teachable moment involved. I wish I could get the book from the library! My daughter’s Kindy teacher said that the whole concept would be above the kids… I disagree. I wish I could share that book with her. Thanks for posting this and all your blogs, I enjoy them.

    1. Aww, thanks Kris. You give me far too much credit. I think the book may be a little too old for our kids…but I will definitely look for it in a year or two. It is NEVER too early to teach kindness and appreciating differences. 🙂

  5. Great post. Third grade was a big year for my son when kids seemed to begin to notice differences. It’s hard but important to talk to your kids about bullying and how to deal with it. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing.

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